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Toothaches & Salt

By Toby Pendergrass

Toothaches can interfere with your ability to eat, drink or conduct a conversation. A saltwater rinse might help relieve some toothaches, although care from a trained professional is vital to ensure your well-being, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Avoid any remedy for a toothache without your dentist's approval.


Toothaches commonly occur as the result of tooth decay caused when bacteria in your mouth form plaque that sticks to your teeth. Bacterial acids penetrate through the enamel, or white protective layer of your teeth, and lead to cavities. While rinsing your mouth with tapwater might minimize discomfort from most toothaches, a saltwater rinse is often prescribed to relieve pain associated with a dental condition called pericoronitis, according to the website for the American Academy of Family Physicians.


Infection and inflammation of tissue in your mouth are often warning signs of pericoronitis. The infection typically occurs around a wisdom tooth that is erupting or tearing through the gum, and it is triggered by the buildup of food particles and bacteria. Pericoronitis can also occur around a wisdom tooth that is impacted, or trapped in your gums. The condition limits your ability to move your jaw and also causes pain when you swallow or chew. Some people with pericoronitis experience bad breath and facial swelling, according to the Merck Manuals.


Pain associated with pericoronitis often eases after rinsing your mouth with hot saltwater to help remove any food particles trapped between your teeth. Dental floss also cleans your mouth of food particles. Your dentist can evaluate your condition to determine whether additional treatment, such as antibiotics, is necessary.


Mix 1 tbsp. of salt in a glass of heated water that should be about the same temperature as you prefer tea or coffee. Hold the saltwater mixture in your mouth near the site of the pain. Replace the rinse when it cools with another hot rinse that will continue working to remove particles from around the tooth and minimize your infection, according to the Merck Manuals.

Time Frame

Set aside three or four times each day to perform the saltwater mouth rinse in advance of meeting with your dentist. Consistent use of the rinse should relieve pain and reduce inflammation.


Pain caused by most toothaches is often temporarily remedied through the consumption of regular tapwater, which often contains fluoride absent from many bottled waters. Nonprescription pain relievers might also be helpful, along with antiseptics that include benzocaine. Avoid the use of aspirin for a toothache, as you may suffer pain and burning in your gums, according to MayoClinic.com.


Alert your dentist if you experience tooth pain that lasts longer than two days. Fever that accompanies toothache, as well as difficulties swallowing or breathing are also warning signs that professional care is needed.

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