My personal best toothache cure
Warm salt water rinses & salt packs
"...shame on the entire medical world for not divulging such a simple pain reliever." (from a comment received by Healing Teeth Naturally)
How I have gotten rid of next to all toothaches,
even involving severe, intense or excruciating pain
This simple procedure for toothache relief (please don't dismiss it as being too simple - I originally did so too) has indeed worked miracles for me and many others, even with tooth pain of the worst imaginable kind. In fact I once had a toothache so terrible and extreme that it sent me in some state of shock for a moment, it was like lightning searing through my jaw and beyond. This pain came from a cavity that had virtually reached the root, as my then dentist had told me when she was drilling at it. Nevertheless I told her to stop drilling (she was planning a root canal, one of the most noxious of conventional treatments in my eyes, see the extensive root canal treatment information provided). (I subsequently treated the caries-eaten tooth myself using the approach outlined in Healing Teeth Naturally's Nutrition and Dental Care & Oral Hygiene pages which seems to have helped rebuild some (at least functional) tooth enamel. While that tooth hasn't recuperated, it has never again given me any trouble.)
Important note: be aware that in certain constellations, salt water may be ineffective (explained at When salt water didn't help). In very rare cases (I am aware of two in total), salt water has increased the pain (reasons unknown, more at A note re cracked/broken teeth). Also, if you are habitually on a low-salt diet or have a known or suspected sensitivity to salt, you may wish to use other pain relievers (such as garlic etc.).
How to do the salt water rinse
Dissolve enough salt (also see Which salt? and Which salt concentration?) in cold or (probably better, gentler and possibly even more effective) lukewarm water (body temperature) to make a strong solution (if you want to take it slowly, begin with a weak solution). Rinse your mouth repeatedly, vigourously swishing the salty water around your mouth (if the pain allows) or just allowing the brine to work in your mouth (it will make you salivate). The dental pain, especially when extremely severe, may instantly subside or perhaps take a while before it goes away, but it will (it certainly has done so for me every time I have used it, the longest it took for acute pain to stop was about two minutes. I have also seen others reporting near-instantaneous dental pain relief achieved in identical fashion, compare Salt water toothache relief testimonials. Sometimes there can be a short initial surge in pain sensation). Repeat application of the salt rinse - even over several days in case the pain reoccurs or doesn't fully go away - may be required. One may also lodge some salt crystals directly against the tooth or gum area that hurts. For best results, don't rinse with water afterwards (for the reasons see Why and how the warm salt water solution may work to stop & cure toothache).
I found this brine toothache treatment more effective than tea tree oil (which for me has been extremely useful for lesser pain and which I may subsequently apply to keep my mouth and teeth "sterilized"), as well as in most instances more helpful than anything else I have tried such as allopathical painkillers (although these do have their [occasional] place), and the widely recommended old standard kitchen toothache remedy clove extract (or pure food grade oil of cloves, an over-the-counter remedy which proved useless in my case with severe pain).
(Incidentally and obviously, if food particles trapped between one's teeth are the root cause of one's toothache, thoroughly sloshing the salt water around one's mouth in the above-described manner should help dislodge the stuck particles. Otherwise flossing or tooth picks may help.)
I use unrefined grey sea salt whenever available which, in contrast to processed table salt, preserves a plethora of natural minerals and trace elements (even though in minuscule amounts). Also, when I rinse my teeth with processed salt in the above-described strong solution, it actually feels "poisonous" in my mouth while a concentrated solution of unrefined sea salt doesn't create this unpleasant taste effect.
Unrefined chunky grey sea salt is available here in Germany in health food stores where I buy it in one kg bags (one can also purchase it online and with some luck get excellent deals, particularly when buying in bulk [salt plus baking soda makes an excellent detox bath, for instance]). This is also the only salt I use for seasoning. While there is so-called unrefined sea salt available which is snowy white and finely ground like normal table salt, I am not sure that the latter is as rich in minerals and trace elements as the grey salt. (I think unrefined sea salt is also sold as "Celtic sea salt" in the US and other countries.) If you do use processed salt, I would make sure it is aluminium-free, at least if you use it frequently.1 Even herbal salt etc. should work just as well if normal salt isn't at hand.
Update 2008: I have bought some bargain salt in bulk from million years old (former marine) deposits which is snowy white but should be even better since it should be free of contaminants.
Update 2016: A recent testimonial points to salt with some extra minerals left in it (here: Himalayan salt) to possibly be more effective: "I haven't been sleeping for the last three days because of an intense and severe toothache (which was supposed to have been healed by the dentist but it started again). I was desperately looking for help since painkillers, tea tree etc. didn't work anymore ... I immediately tried the salt miracle and I might be able to sleep a bit ...the pain is waaaayyy better. I first tried with regular salt and it wasn't effective enough, then I used Himalayan salt ... which worked better and quicker. ... saved my nights and my nerves!"
Often it may not matter much (exceptions compare Increasing the concentration and length of application) as long as it makes you salivate, showing that water/fluid is drawn from your gums etc. Apparently a concentration of 3-5% salt would be natural in as much as it corresponds to the salt concentration found in our planet's oceans. I've read that the highest possible salt-in-water concentration is 26% which may quickly give a caustic sensation at the mucous membrane of the mouth. A physiological saline solution/concentration (as found in the human body itself), would be 0.9%. So if you are scientifically inclined (even with tooth pain), you may want to experiment with anything between 0.9% and 26%.
Slight variations of the salt-water remedy for teeth under a "cold attack"
For teeth that are stricken with a "cold attack", i.e. that become extremely painful due to the sensitivity of the nerve after eating or drinking cold foods: try adding to the salt-water solution a pinch of alcohol (not the beverages) and rinse the mouth. The water has to be neither cold nor hot but lukewarm.
Adding herbal disinfectants to the salt water
When (as will often be the case) the toothache is due to a deep-seated (pulpal/nerve) infection of the tooth, you may further benefit by adding any of the many powerfully infection-combatting plants or extracts thereof (see Natural toothache remedies: herbs and plants for many suggestions).
The longest it ever took me to get toothache pain relief from the salt water (over two days) was when the pain came from an area covered by a bridge. It makes sense that the salt water would take longer to work in such a spot since most of the area was impenetrably covered by an artificial "sealant" (which I long hesitated to have removed since I resented paying another small fortune for the work of a few minutes to a dentist) (see Risks of dental bridges for why I now know this to be a huge error).
A similar case concerns a friend who tried it on some intense gum/tooth pain in the area of a capped root-canaled tooth. It did not work over several days suggesting that the microorganisms involved had developed immunity to the "sterilizing" effect of the sea salt solution, or again, that the salt water simply didn't reach the area.
What finally helped him were plain over-the-counter painkilling tablets, with one half of a tablet applied topically and the other half taken internally, while later rinsing his mouth with water and tea tree oil and applying a few straight drops locally (he was fasting nearly throughout the ordeal as the tooth/gum sensitivity and pain didn’t allow him to take food). The pain-free state thus achieved helped him to properly sleep (very important for the body to do its healing and detoxifying work), with an abscess forming the following day which (in unison with the pain) gradually receded as he resumed occasionally rinsing and thus draining the abscess with sea salt water. He never needed a dentist.
Important for those who "already know" about salt water:
Try increasing the concentration and length of application
As a site visitor commented: "I had already known about the salt water rinse, but never had I tried it with such high concentration or lengthy exposure. One moment I'm practically reeling with agony, and the next I feel better than ever. Thank you so much." This testimonial shows how powerful salt water can be with more concentrated/lengthier application! Another testimonial to the same effect sent in by Fred Stovall III:
"I was experiencing excruciating tooth pain. I had come across your site previously but wasn't a believer because (due to my own fault) I had tried the salt rinse thing, but hadn't read thoroughly enough to see that the rinse had to be repeated (in more severe cases) & concentrations & application times increased. After about 20 minutes of constantly rising concentration and application times, I AM ELATED to report that the toothache (worst part) is gone. A little soreness is still there but I am feeling soooo much better and can now enjoy this Sunday and my NFL. I am still rinsing because even the soreness is subsiding. I am going to keep it up until the pain is all gone. I had scheduled a 4:20p emergency dental appt which I am cancelling because I didn't have what they were asking for anyways and tomorrow being a holiday clinics at the VA would be closed and the VA dental clinic doesn't take walk-ins anyway. I am so grateful and happy to have come across this site. THANK YOU!!!!"
Also compare Salt water toothache relief testimonals.
Generally, I do not know if salt water works for pain stemming from root canals (i.e. dead teeth) but I suggest it is more than worth a try.
...seem to abound, even many dramatic ones, including by those who've tried "more sensible" things first such as popping a tylenol and other conventional painkillers, using mouthwash and brushing their teeth, even ice packs and heat applications. Occasionally these have combined salt water with other applications, such as Listerine.
Here is a sample testimonial: "I've been pumping ibuprofen and vicoden for 30 mins of tears and moaning and an ice pack and despair over crippling pain in my mouth. I found a few moments to google for help and was led to YOU.... A little warm water and table salt and swishing over and around the teeth and the absolutely crippling pain has subsided.... I am a 40 year old man and not quite a person who can't handle pain... if I would have been offered to cut off a finger in exchange for the mouth pain to stop I would have offered the butcher knife... it was that bad. If I hadn't found you I REALLY was ready to call an ambulance. [...] something so simple [...] shame on the entire medical world for not divulging such a simple pain reliever."
And several more read:
"... a life saver, I never believed people when they told me to use salt water for toothache but your comments convinced me, my pain was so bad, I had been suffering from toothache so bad I couldn't stop crying and I couldn't sleep, I used your remedy and after a couple of minutes started to see results, it didn't go away completely but it help[ed] make it bearable enough that I could at least sleep and I have never been so grateful to someone before."
"I broke my tooth ... went to the emergency room who basically dismissed me with some crappy pain pills. My friend gave me some of her stronger pain pills. Nothing worked. I couldn't sleep or eat for 2 days. I was in so much pain that I was actually crying. My husband found your site and talked me into trying the salt. ... saved my weekend and my sanity. It worked immediately. The pain was gone instantly and hasn't come back yet. I have been pain free for 12 hours now and and am so happy." (Also compare above, "Important for those who "already know" about salt water...".)
"...hard to find words to express my thanks. I have been suffering from extreme tooth and jaw ache for a week (and periodically for years, popping ibuprofen and co-codamol like sweets. It got to the point where nothing helped and during a sleepless night last night I came upon your website.
I too thought the salt water seemed too easy but on my first application, instant relief!
I have had the best night's sleep and now 12 hours later and not a pill popped I feel like different (pain free) person.
How can you thank someone who has stopped the worse pain - and I have had 2 children - enough. ... the light at the end of a very dark tunnel."
"...haven't been to the dentist for 16 years... and developed pain to the point I nearly fainted ... I tried this salt water technique and repeated its application at c. 3 week intervals. Now four months later the two teeth in question are free of pain." (translated from German by Healing Teeth Naturally)
"...a life saver. My last wisdom teeth was killing me as it grows. I was on heavy painkillers which took a long time to take effect, made me drowsy and sleepy and made my stomach hurt.
I was skeptical, because using salt for easing pain? Sounds contradictory but I was willing to try anything. I can't thank you enough, the salt treatment is working out great, and I keep a small thermos of the stuff with me when I go to work so I can get to my job again!" (This testimonial is interesting as it shows that salt water can even help with pain from growing wisdom teeth.)
"I nearly died, and probably damaged my liver with Panadol [acetaminophen] overdose2 last night. However, the salt cure has brought me back to life again. Thank you for sharing, it really works.The pain is still there, but it is 10% as to 200% prior."
In cases such as these, where some pain continues to linger, I personally recommend what seems like another truly sovereign remedy for dental pain: auto-urine rinses. Understandably difficult at first for most but once one has experienced the amazing benefits [which frequently seem like magic and which actually go beyond pain relief], one never wants to do without them again. To help you understand the reasons, see the outstanding science underpinning the medical uses of urine and/or its compounds - uropathy has even been used to heal cancer.
Read on for more toothache testimonials...
While I frequently receive heartfelt letters of appreciation for sharing this simple and virtually free remedy to often obtain instant toothache relief (samples under Salt water toothache relief testimonials), in May 2009 I received a “kind” letter from an angry person who apparently had tried the salt water on a cracked tooth with the result that his pain got a lot worse. A second similar case from February 2011 involved a tooth a considerable portion of which had broken off down to the gumline revealing a blackened inside (which generally denotes a dead pulp). A short salt water rinse triggered in this case very strong pain, with the nerve twitching "like crazy" and subsequent spread of the pain to the cheek.
On the other hand, here are four very positive experiences with salt water for a cracked/broken tooth:
"I had an agonizing tooth ache over Christmas due to cracking a tooth. I was popping pain killers like candy, but nothing helped-I couldn't sleep and was in so much pain. I tried the salt in water remedy, which at first didn't work. I then made a VERY strong mixture in luke-warm water/salt and my pain has disappeared. I am so relieved, and look forward to finally getting some sleep!"
"OMG...OMG...OMG THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!! I am absolutely dumbfounded at how quickly this worked, or that it even worked at all. Not sure how long the relief will last but I WAS in absolute agony. A cap fell out of a molar which had had a root canal but had broken ... After it fell out today the pain has been steadily increasing to the worst toothache ever..ibuprofen with dolased (combination of paracetamol, codeine etc) did nothing. Dental ointment with clove...made it worse. I made a very strong solution of two heaped teaspoons of sea salt and 1/2 cup of water. Room temperature. Just held it in my mouth around the affected tooth and the pain almost went instantly. ... I am truly amazed. Even if I have to keep doing this every half hour it will be better than suffering. Hopefully I will get to sleep tonight and be able to go to the dentist in the morning without further suffering. So far so good. I'm so very thankful!"
Similarly, the response by Farah who has translated my first "dental" page My Home Remedy for the Natural Pain Relief of Toothache, Curing Tooth Decay Through Dietary Dental Regeneration into Farsi and who also had good experiences using salt water on a broken tooth:
“[M]y tooth broke when I was chewing food (a broken tooth is worse than a crack), I felt some pain with having a red gum around it. I went to few dentist to get their advice. All of them told me that my tooth need operation means cutting the gum and planting some kind of wall for filling the tooth.
I didn't [follow] their advice, instead I started to apply your [salt water] remedy. The pain [was] gone after a day but my red gum was still there. I found out that my solution is not strong enough and the water should be lukewarm not even room temperature water then I got better result and now my gum is getting pink color.
Other experience is my mom. She is about 80 and she was feeling of a weak teeth while eating and brushing (like when your tooth is drilled and open to air). She started your remedy (even added some bicarbonate soda for better cleaning result) she told me that she feels her teeth are stronger and can eat everything.
The third experience was for my son. .... About 18 months ago I realized that on my son's front tooth a tiny decay is appeared. I advised him to stop using toothpaste and start salt and bicarbonate soda for cleaning and preventing the decay [from progressing]. He is applying sea salt remedy after each meal and not only the decay didn't grow but also it seems getting lighter. ...
As final, whenever I share these experiences with dentists they get ANGRY and say nasty things.
God bless you,
Also see the dramatic "broken tooth" testimonial under Salt water toothache relief testimonials above where salt water saved the person from agony.
Bottom line: in case you suspect or know the cause of your toothache to be a cracked/broken off tooth, you might consider using this recipe with caution or simply abstain, as you feel guided! On the other hand, it cannot be ruled out that in the case of the two negative experiences quoted above, the increase in pain would have occurred in any case and was only accelerated by the salt water. Incidentally, even minuscule wounds in your mouth can be the cause of pain after salt application.
Salt water rinses followed by oil pulling
To date, I have received two personal testimonials where salt water helped initially but not in the longer term and where in both cases, the person concerned found subsequent relief via oil pulling. See Oil pulling and dental pain: sample testimonials.
Summary: what I'd do when salt water doesn't or no longer (seems to) help
Occasionally I come across reports saying that rinsing with salt water didn't help or no longer helps. In my experience, there could be several reasons for this. Please (re)read above When salt water didn't help (salt not reaching the area of pain etc.), increasing the concentration and length of application (insufficient concentration) as well as cracked/broken teeth. Even using cold rather than lukewarm water can make all the difference.
Also see General advice for homemade (DIY) toothache relief - and beyond and try some of the numerous additional suggestions for toothache relief listed below in Natural holistic & home dental remedies for toothache & other dental problems.
I also think that using fluoridated, iodised or otherwise tampered-with salt could be an irritating factor (in the US for instance, CODEX STAN 150-1985 allows quite a range of food additives to be added to salt) and/or that an interaction occurred between these chemicals and others already present in the mouth (such as from using conventional toothpaste with its various chemicals) which further irritated the tooth.
If nothing should help, personally I consider direct application (not ingestion) of a painkiller (half a tablet lodged against the area of pain can be totally sufficient) the best solution, in my and a friend's experience this works in less than a minute to completely stop all pain, again compare When salt water didn't help). Taking analgesics internally (which I'd do just for the "psychological" effect such as swallowing the other half of the tablet) is totally ineffective in my experience. Yes, allopathic analgesics are not natural and likely a toxic burden on the liver and/or kidneys and/or intestines, but ever so welcome in my experience with pain unamenable to other approaches, IF directly applied as close as possible to the tooth. In other words, with intractable pain, in my experience it's the painkiller tablet directly applied close to the painful spot which works wonders.
Additionally, I have seen numerous reports extolling the virtues of applying garlic to a toothache but have not tried it myself, for some of the pros and cons see Herbal toothache remedies: garlic.
Why and how the warm salt water solution may work to stop & cure toothache
Toothache combination remedy:
saltwater plus baking soda and listerine
See site visitor Trent's toothache success report.
When rinsing with salt, does some of the salt get into your system?
Yes, that's very likely. Sea water is the closest in composition to human blood and sodium a vital component of the human body so personally, I am not concerned about sea salt entering my system. If you have any misgivings about adding salt to your system, see above "Important note" and apply "when in doubt, go without" as you are guided.
Does a salt application further corrode amalgam from dental fillings?
I haven't found a definitive answer. German toxicity expert Prof. Max Daunderer writes that amalgam is corroded by fluoride (incl from fluoridated salt and toothpaste) and by iodised salt (among many other pathways in which dental amalgam's most brain-toxic components mercury and tin are released into our blood and brain). He doesn't refer to unadulterated salt as an amalgam-corrosive agent. A study I found used three different dental amalgams and immersed them in 0.5% aqueous solutions of salt (sodium chloride) as well as other solutions over a 6-month period and analyzed their silver, mercury, copper, tin and zinc content via atomic absorption spectrophotometer. The authors write that "Zinc was the first element to be released in sodium chloride solutions. After a 4-month immersion, considerable amounts of copper and mercury could also be found in the same solutions."
Considering that amalgam fillings permanently leak in any case, see On the dangers of dental amalgam (mercury) "silver" fillings, personally I would use salt water anytime for toothache - but this is your call.
Be aware - salt water is somewhat corrosive
so should not be stored in a metal jar (or one with a metal lid). If you wish to keep a jug of salt water handy, a safe option to store the brine in would be a container made of pure glass. (I once ruined a brand-new vacuum cleaner by hoovering up some spilled salt - it instantly corroded the metal innards of my vacuum!)
In case that after relieving your toothache...
you want or have to treat your own tooth or teeth, you may wish to continue reading at Advice on what to do when you can't or don't want to see a dentist. Also make sure to read the other five "must-read" pages listed on Healing Teeth Naturally's home page.
Other successes with salt water
See Testimonial: salt water brushing has healed cavities. Additionally, a site visitor reported that she had accidentally hurt her gums while brushing with her electric toothbrush and the affected spot had become strongly inflamed. Rinsing with sea salt water however rapidly helped the gum to heal.
1 Both mercury and aluminium seem [strongly] implicated as causes in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease. Compare On Effective Holistic Heavy Metal Detoxification (Chelation).
2 Compare Allopathic toothache remedies.
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