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, a controversial conventional treatment which is possibly fraught with many health dangers, see the extensive root canal treatment information provided).
(I subsequently treated the cavity-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 - it cannot be ruled out of course that the nerve has died.)
Important note: be aware that in a few constellations, salt water may be ineffective (explained at When salt water doesn't seem to help). In very rare cases (I am aware of two in total), salt water has increased the pain (reasons unknown, more at Can I use salt water with 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, see the reports embedded on this page as well as the dedicated Salt water toothache relief testimonials pages. 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. 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 your 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).
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 the
Salt water toothache relief testimonials
... which 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. Read the testimonials.
but limit a salt water rinse to say a maximum of ten minutes. Otherwise your taste buds may not function very well for some hours. To restore humidity to a dried-out tongue, cold-pressed olive oil seems to work well (as it does for problems with the nasal mucosa).
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.
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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).