Seven tips for wisdom teeth pain relief

People often decide to have their wisdom teeth removed, as they can cause painful, aching gums. How can wisdom teeth pain be relieved at home before their removal?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to break through the gums. They grow at the very back of a person’s mouth. There are normally four wisdom teeth in total, with one in each of the furthest corners of the top and bottom gums.

This article looks at home remedies and medical treatments to relieve the pain caused by wisdom teeth.

Contents of this article:

  1. What causes wisdom teeth pain?
  2. Treating wisdom teeth pain at home
  3. How to avoid wisdom teeth pain
  4. Outlook

What causes wisdom teeth pain?


Wisdom teeth usually emerge after all the adult teeth. They may emerge at an awkward angle, or there may not be enough room for them.

Wisdom teeth normally push their way through the gums when a person is between the ages of 17 and 21. The sensation of a tooth pushing through the gums can be painful.

In addition, there is often no room for the wisdom teeth in a person’s mouth, as the adult teeth have already developed. This lack of space may cause wisdom teeth to come through at an angle, or getting stuck and not come through fully.

When this happens, the wisdom teeth are impacted. Having impacted wisdom teeth leaves the gums vulnerable, as the surface breaks and the teeth are not fully through. Food and bacteria can get trapped in the gums and lead to several issues, including:

Treating wisdom teeth pain at home

Impacted wisdom teeth may cause pain, aches, and tenderness. Ultimately, removing the wisdom teeth can help resolve these problems.

In the meantime, there are several over-the-counter medical treatments and natural home remedies available.

1. Numbing gel

A numbing dental gel may help reduce feeling in the gums and dull the pain. These gels are available over the counter and contain the active ingredient benzocaine.

Most dental gels can be applied directly to the affected gums throughout the day. However, it is important for a person to follow the instructions included in the product. Also, it is possible to be allergic to benzocaine.

2. Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter pain relief medication that helps reduce inflammation.

Taking the recommended dose on the packet may help relieve discomfort. It can also reduce inflammation of the gums associated with wisdom teeth development.

Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may be effective pain management until a person can see a dentist for treatment.

3. Ice pack

Applying an ice pack to the jaw can help reduce inflammation, which in turn may relieve pain. Using ice can also have a numbing effect.

A person can try holding an ice pack with a tea towel around it against their jaw for up to 15 minutes.

The ice pack can be applied off and on with 15 minute breaks until the pain has subsided.

4. Salt water rinse


Rinsing the mouth with salt water several times a day may help to reduce symptoms such as pain.

Salt water has natural disinfectant properties. A 2010 study showed that rinsing the mouth with salt water can help reduce bacteria.

Sometimes, a build-up of bacteria in the broken gums around wisdom teeth can be the cause of pain. As such, rinsing with salt water may help treat the infection and reduce the discomfort.

To make the salt water rinse, a person can dissolve a few tablespoons of salt into a glass of freshly boiled water. When the water has cooled slightly, it can be swirled around the mouth for several minutes, then spat out.

A person may want to rinse their mouth with salt water two or three times a day, or until the pain starts to reduce.

5. Cloves

Research into the effectiveness of cloves to relieve wisdom tooth pain is positive. A 2006 studyshowed that there is promise for cloves as a topical pain reliever due to their numbing effect.

To try this home remedy, a person can use a whole clove or clove oil. If using a whole clove they should:

  • place the clove over the wisdom tooth that is causing pain
  • hold it in place by closing their jaw, but without chewing
  • leave it there until the pain reduces and then spit it out

To try this remedy using clove oil, a person can:

  • put a few drops of clove oil on a ball of cotton wool
  • put the cotton wool on the wisdom tooth that is causing pain
  • hold the cotton wool in place until the pain reduces and then remove it

6. Onion

2007 study found that onions have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These advantages of onions mean they can help reduce swelling and fight bacterial infections.

To use onions as a home remedy, a person should:

  • cut off a piece of onion
  • chew the onion on the side of the mouth that has the pain
  • keep chewing for a few minutes until pain reduces and then spit out the onion

This process allows the juice from the onion to go into the gum so that it can reduce inflammation and bacteria.

7. Tea bags


Tea bags should only be placed in the mouth when completely cooled.

2016 study found that tannins contained in tea bags have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This means tea bags may help reduce swelling and fight bacterial infections.

To use tea bags as a home remedy, a person should make a cup of tea and put the cup in the fridge with the tea bag left in it. Once the tea is cold, the tea bag can be taken out and placed inside the mouth where the pain is located.

How to avoid wisdom teeth pain

When a person’s wisdom teeth are coming through, there are practical things they can do to make it less likely that their gums become infected. These actions include:

  • Practicing good oral hygiene: Brushing teeth twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash can help reduce the bacteria in the mouth that cause infections.
  • Drinking plenty of water: This helps to flush food and bacteria away from the teeth and gums.
  • Avoid sugary foods: Sweet foods can get stuck inside the broken gums, encouraging bacteria to grow.
Last reviewed

Diabetes causes shift in oral microbiome that fosters periodontitis, Penn study finds.

Doctor Krape Cosmetic & Specialized Dentistry continues to keep you informed as to the new studies, trending techniques and medical advances that can affect or change the way Dentistry is practiced, which can affect the overall health of not just your teeth but your entire body! Diabetes continues to have ill effects on much more than previously understood. Please read!

A new study led by University of Pennsylvania researchers has found that the oral microbiome is affected by diabetes, causing a shift to increase its pathogenicity. The research, published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, not only showed that the oral microbiome of mice with diabetes shifted but that the change was associated with increased inflammation and bone loss.

“Up until now, there had been no concrete evidence that diabetes affects the oral microbiome,” said Dana Graves, senior author on the new study and vice dean of scholarship and research at Penn’s School of Dental Medicine. “But the studies that had been done were not rigorous.”

Just four years ago, the European Federation of Periodontology and the American Academy of Periodontology issued a report stating there is no compelling evidence that diabetes is directly linked to changes in the oral microbiome. But Graves and colleagues were skeptical and decided to pursue the question, using a mouse model that mimics Type 2 diabetes.

“My argument was that the appropriate studies just hadn’t been done, so I decided, We’ll do the appropriate study,” Graves said.

Graves co-authored the study with Kyle Bittinger of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who assisted with microbiome analysis, along with E Xiao from Peking University, who was the first author, and co-authors from the University of São Paulo, Sichuan University, the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the University of Capinas. The authors consulted with Daniel Beiting of Penn Vet’s Center for Host-Microbial Interactions and did the bone-loss measurements at the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Diseases.

Graves co-authored the study with Kyle Bittinger of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who assisted with microbiome analysis, along with E Xiao from Peking University, who was the first author, and co-authors from the University of São Paulo, Sichuan University, the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the University of Capinas. The authors consulted with Daniel Beiting of Penn Vet’s Center for Host-Microbial Interactions and did the bone-loss measurements at the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Diseases.

“We were able to induce the rapid bone loss characteristic of the diabetic group into a normal group of animals simply by transferring the oral microbiome,” said Graves.

With the microbiome now implicated in causing the periodontitis, Graves and colleagues wanted to know how. Suspecting that inflammatory cytokines, and specifically IL-17, played a role, the researchers repeated the microbiome transfer experiments, this time injecting the diabetic donors with an anti-IL-17 antibody prior to the transfer. Mice that received microbiomes from the treated diabetic mice had much less severe bone loss compared to mice that received a microbiome transfer from untreated mice.

The findings “demonstrate unequivocally” that diabetes-induced changes in the oral microbiome drive inflammatory changes that enhance bone loss in periodontitis, the authors wrote.

Though IL-17 treatment was effective at reducing bone loss in the mice, it is unlikely to be a reasonable therapeutic strategy in humans due to its key role in immune protection. But Graves noted that the study highlights the importance for people with diabetes of controlling blood sugar and practicing good oral hygiene.

“Diabetes is one of the systemic disease that is most closely linked to periodontal disease, but the risk is substantially ameliorated by good glycemic control,” he said. “And good oral hygiene can take the risk even further down.”

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (DE017732 and DE021921) with assistance from Penn Vet’s Center for Host-Microbioal Interactions and the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Article: Diabetes Enhances IL-17 Expression and Alters the Oral Microbiome to Increase Its Pathogenicity, Dana T. Graves et al., Cell Host & Microbe, doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.06.014, published 12 July 2017.