Updated: 2/6/2020

Dental work is expensive. And while a dentist should always be seen for major issues, short-term solutions for more minor problems may be available at little to no cost. Many common household items can be used to relieve dental pain, reduce bleeding in the gums, eliminate bad breath and remove surface stains from the teeth. Keep reading to see how you can use these home remedies to improve your smile.

Dental Pain

Toothache? Try one of these home remedies to help ease the pain until you can get to the dentist.

  1. Cucumber: Cucumbers help soothe dental pain, especially if the cucumber is cold. Cut up a small piece of refrigerated cucumber and place it on your tooth to relieve the pain.
  2. Raw potato: Similarly, a refrigerated potato can also help provide relief for a toothache. Peel off the skin and cut off a small piece to place on the affected tooth.
  3. Real vanilla extract: Real (not imitation) vanilla has numbing properties that can desensitize the area around an infected tooth. Apply the vanilla to the area with a cotton ball, or swish it around your whole mouth to numb a larger area.
  4. Teabag: Tea that is high in tannic acid, such as green or black tea, helps to reduce swelling. Moisten the tea bag and microwave until it’s warm. Then squeeze out the excess water and press the teabag against the painful area until it cools.
  5. Salt water rinse: Salt has many healing properties and can help ease a toothache. Dilute 2-3 teaspoons of salt in one cup of warm water. Swish the solution around in your mouth like mouthwash, and then spit it out. Repeat as needed.

Tissue Infection

An infection of the mouth tissue may include cold sores, canker sores, gingivitis or other gum disease. Mouth tissue damage can be very painful, but can easily be remedied with some simple homemade treatments.

  1. Make a rinse using hydrogen peroxide and water. Combine 1 part peroxide and 4 parts water and rinse. The peroxide will help kill any bacteria that are causing the infection, and the water dilutes the peroxide so that it isn’t too strong. You can also add salt to make it a saline rinse similar to what professionals use.
  2. Combine baking soda and water to make a paste and apply it to the affected tissue. Let sit for several seconds, then wash out your mouth to remove the excess paste. Baking soda helps to kill microbes in the mouth, so this should help reduce infection.
  3. Aloe vera can also help soothe inflamed tissue. Rub some on the affected area, or gargle it with a small amount of water to help reduce swelling.

Bad Breath

Bad breath is a common condition that affects about 40% of the American population. Many times, the cure is as simple as brushing your teeth, but there are also some home remedies worth trying if you need a little extra help eliminating the smell.

  1. Baking soda. While baking soda kills unwanted bacteria, it also helps to eliminate bad odors. Brushing your teeth with baking soda before brushing with toothpaste can help freshen breath and remove any odor-causing bacteria.
  2. Spices. Many spices, such as cloves, fennel or anise seeds, have odor-eliminating properties. Chewing on these spices can help disguise bad breath and give it a fresh, new scent.
  3. Gargle. Another way to eliminate bad breath is by creating your own gargle. Extracts of sage, calendula and myrrh gum can help put an end to bad breath and can all be purchased at your local health food store. Mix together equal parts of the three ingredients and gargle.


Everyone wishes they could have a whiter smile without paying the high prices that many professional and even store-bought remedies are known for. Fortunately, there are many items right in your own home that may help brighten up a smile for little to no cost.

  1. Strawberries/Citrus: Strawberries and citrus fruits are high in acid that helps bleach teeth. Simply eating these foods will help, but you can also apply the pulp to your teeth like a whitening gel. Don’t leave it on too long though – the acid can wear away the enamel.
  2. Baking soda: Baking soda is also a great whitening agent. Its abrasiveness helps to scrub away surface stains. Try brushing with baking soda and water before toothpaste, or mix it into strawberry pulp or lemon juice and apply to your teeth.
  3. Hydrogen peroxide: This solution is also effective in whitening, and can be used simply by swishing around in the mouth. It can also be combined with baking soda to make a paste and then used as toothpaste.

For more information and homemade remedies for teeth whitening, check out our ultimate guide to teeth whitening.

Homemade remedies can be great temporary fixes, but should never be used in place of professional dental treatment. Rather, they should only be used for relief until a dentist can be seen. Be sure to alert your dentist if any complications occur, and check with him before using any home remedies.