Your Guide To Oral Pain Relief (2021)

Your Guide To Oral Pain Relief (2021)

Are you suffering from oral pain? This pain can appear suddenly and become severe enough to distract you from your daily life and responsibilities. You need relief, but you may not know where to start.

This guide will help you understand what to do if you are trying to stop oral pain. You’ll learn about some possible sources, effective over-the-counter pain relief medications, and some steps you can take while you’re waiting for your medicine to arrive.

Table of contents

  1. What are the sources of oral pain?
  2. What over-the-counter medications work for pain relief?
  3. Waiting for your medication to arrive? Here are some solutions you can try right now

Let’s start by looking at some possible causes of oral pain.


What are some major sources of oral pain?

Oral pain has many different sources. You may need to figure out where your pain is coming from before you can treat it appropriately. The following sources are some of the most common:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Muscle aches
  • Emergency medical conditions

Each of these sources needs to be treated differently. Below, you’ll learn what causes these problems, symptoms that can identify them, and treatments that may be used to make the pain stop.


Tooth decay & damage

Tooth decay refers to damage to the structure of the tooth. This starts when the enamel of the tooth begins to break down and can no longer protect the sensitive nerves underneath. Teeth can also develop cracks if they’re damaged. 

Once the enamel has deteriorated enough, the tooth will be highly sensitive to many sensations, including pressure, heat, and cold. If the tooth is exposed to any of these sensations for too long, moderate to severe oral pain may result.

Tooth decay can appear as several different forms of oral pain. It may cause a throbbing pain around one tooth or the entire jaw. If a tooth becomes cracked, the pain may be sharp and searing. 

Over-the-counter pain relievers can be effective at treating tooth pain. However, this pain typically points to serious issues that will need to be treated by a dentist. Ignoring tooth pain can lead to serious medical issues, including gum disease.


Gum disease


Image by AJC1 from Flickr

Gum disease is another major source of oral pain. It often results from poor dental hygiene habits, but genetics and lifestyle conditions may make it difficult to avoid. 

After a certain point, the disease will cause inflammation of the gum tissue. This inflammation is associated with several different kinds of pain.

You may experience pain around swollen areas of the gums. You may also experience pain when chewing. Even when there isn’t pressure on the gums or teeth, you may feel a constant ache.

The pain from gum disease can be treated with standard over-the-counter pain killers. However, this is not a long-term or even short-term solution to the problem. You will need to see a dentist as early as possible. 

With early intervention, gum disease can be cured. Eventually, however, it will only be treatable and not curable.


Muscle aches

Muscle aches can easily cause oral pain. The jaw and neck muscles are capable of causing pain that is focused in or around the mouth. This pain appears when the muscles experience stress that causes them to tighten. 

For example, the masseter muscle—which is used for chewing—can easily become inflamed or fatigued from overuse. When this happens, you may experience an ache that feels like it’s coming from the back of your mouth.

Some muscle injuries can result in myofascial pain syndrome. This condition can cause pain all over the body, including pain that resembles a toothache.

Many muscle aches will heal if the muscles are allowed to rest. Most over-the-counter pain relievers and muscle relaxants can bring temporary relief. However, some muscle conditions may require advanced medical treatment.


Canker sores

Canker sores are lesions that form within the mouth. They may appear in mild or major form.

Minor canker sores are small and may cause unpleasant stinging pain. Major canker sores can be extremely painful and cover a large area of the mouth. 

Most small canker sores will heal on their own within a few weeks. Larger ones may not heal properly for more than a month.  

Topical pain relievers designed for oral use may help relieve pain. You should speak to a doctor if they last for more than two weeks. This may point to a more serious condition.

These are only some of the common sources of oral pain. There are many others that may appear in response to certain kinds of injuries or chronic conditions. You may need to let a doctor diagnose what is causing your pain accurately.

No matter the source of your pain, you need relief. You can turn to over-the-counter medications to get relief for most kinds of oral pain. Let’s look at some of the medications that are most likely to be available in your area without a prescription.


What over-the-counter medications work for pain relief?

bowl of over-the-counter medications

Image by ribesweg from Pixabay

A wide variety of medications are available to treat oral pain. Many of them do not require a prescription. If you’re looking for medication to treat your pain until you can see a health care specialist, consider one of the following options:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen Sodium

Below, you’ll find some information about each of these medications that may help you determine which one offers the best chance of relief. For each one, you’ll learn what kinds of oral pain they can treat, and when they should be avoided.



Ibuprofen is a common over-the-counter pain reliever that is usually available in tablet or capsule form. It is considered to be effective for oral pain. In fact, it is the most popular over-the-counter pain relief medication used in dentistry.

It is considered effective for dental pain because it treats inflammation in addition to pain. This makes it particularly effective against oral injuries that may cause swelling—such as cracks in teeth or gum disease.

Ibuprofen can be used to treat:

  • Toothaches
  • Postoperative dental pain
  • Gum inflammation

Ibuprofen may be recommended to treat canker sores. However, this medication may cause mouth ulcers that are similar to canker sores in some people.

Who should avoid Ibuprofen?

Some people should avoid ibuprofen. Choose another medication if any of the following conditions are true for you:

  • You are already taking Aspirin
  • You have been prescribed and are taking blood thinners, corticosteroids, or lithium
  • You have been taking Ibuprofen for a prolonged amount of time


Acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter medication that is available in tablet and caplet form. It is sold under the brand name Tylenol. Generics are widely available.

It is widely used for dental and other types of oral pain. Dentists may prefer to offer this medication to patients who cannot take ibuprofen for medical reasons. However, it does not have the same anti-inflammatory effects as ibuprofen.

Acetaminophen can be used to treat:

  • Toothaches
  • Fever that may result from tooth infections
  • Canker sores

Who should avoid Acetaminophen?

This medication is not safe for everyone. You should avoid it if any of the following conditions apply to you:

  • You suspect that you may be allergic
  • You have liver disease or complications that involve your liver
  • You have more than three alcoholic beverages a day


Aspirin is a common over-the-counter pain reliever that can often be found in tablet form. It can be used to treat several sources of oral pain. 

Like Ibuprofen, it has some potent anti-inflammatory properties. This can make it a more effective pain reliever in cases where swelling is involved. 

A medical myth has persisted that aspirin can be crushed and rubbed against teeth or gums to act as a topical pain reliever. This practice is not safe or effective. However, aspirin can be helpful to manage tooth or gum pain when used as directed.

Aspirin can be used to treat:

  • Toothaches
  • Gum swelling
  • Muscle aches of the jaw

Who should avoid Aspirin?

You should avoid taking aspirin if any of the following conditions apply to you:

  • You have or are at high risk for heart attack or diabetes
  • You are prone to or have developed ulcers
  • You are under 16 years of age

Naproxen Sodium

Naproxen Sodium is a long-lasting pain reliever that’s available over-the-counter in tablet form. It is nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory. It has comparable strength to ibuprofen, but the effects can last 12 hours rather than the typical 4-6.

This medication is considered to be effective at treating pain and muscle aches. It is often used to treat oral pain, such as toothaches and sensitive gums. Its anti-inflammatory properties help treat swelling.

Naproxen Sodium can be used to treat:

  • Toothaches
  • Inflamed gums
  • Canker sores

 Who should avoid Naproxen Sodium?

Not everyone can take Naproxen Sodium safely. You should avoid this medication if any of the following conditions apply to you:

  • You have an allergy or intolerance to any NSAID
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You have GI problems, including ulcers

You can easily order these over-the-counter medications online. However, if you are currently at home and looking for an immediate solution, some temporary remedies may work for you. Let’s look at some of the ways you can get temporary relief with common household items.

Waiting for your medication to arrive? Here are some solutions you can try right now

Even the most effective over-the-counter medications may take a couple of hours to start working. If you need relief right now, the following remedies may help.


A cold compress

A cold compress is a package that contains ice or cool water. When it’s ready, it can be pressed against the affected area. The cold temperature will create a numbing effect that can reduce pain and swelling. 

You can create a cold compress out of nearly anything. Sealing ice in a ziplock bag will work. Store-bought ice packs can serve the same purpose. 

When using a cold compress to treat oral pain, make sure you create an effective barrier between the source of the cold temperatures and your skin. Washcloths are great for this purpose.  

To treat toothaches this way, apply the cold compress to the area of the cheek or gums closest to the tooth. Be careful to avoid letting cold surfaces touch the tooth itself. This can lead to more pain.


A saltwater rinse

Rinsing with salt water is an effortless way to treat oral pain temporarily. To apply this remedy, you just need to add half a teaspoon of salt to an 8oz cup of warm water. Swish the water around in your mouth for about 20 seconds, and then spit it out.

This will mildly relieve some forms of oral pain. More importantly, it will kill a significant amount of the bacteria that contribute to swelling and may lead to infection.

This method is considered to be most effective against chipped or cracked teeth. It may also help with inflamed gums.


Relieve oral pain fast

Oral pain can be a significant obstacle to living your life. Naturally, you want it gone as soon as possible so you can go back to living a healthy life

Now, you know some of the ways that you can identify the sources of oral pain. You know what symptoms may point to different conditions. In most cases, you’ll want to speak to a doctor to be sure.

You’ve also learned about some of the most popular over-the-counter medications on the market. You know that these medications treat oral pain in different ways and that some of them may be the better option depending on whether you need an anti-inflammatory drug.

Finally, you know some remedies that can help you treat pain and decrease the risk of infection. Nearly anyone can make a cold compress or saltwater rinse to hold them over until they get the medication or doctor’s attention that they need.

Feature Image by Sammy-Williams on Pixabay


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Best Selling Medicine