Fact Check: Will a mixture of potash, alum, salt, and pepper cure toothache?

Quick Take

A number of social media posts claim that a mixture of potash, alum, salt, and pepper can cure toothaches. We fact-checked the claim and found it to be mostly false.

The Claim

“Get some alum, some potash, a spoon of salt, native pepper. Grind them together put small of it to the affected teeth and wash your mouth with lime water after five minutes,” claims the post. The post has been widely shared on social media. One such post can be seen here. A screenshot is given below.

Fact Check

Does potash have any role in oral hygine or dental health?

Potash, a common name given to is an alkaline potassium compound, especially potassium carbonate or hydroxide. The compound is widely used in fertilizers. Potassium Carbonate is also used in making soap, glass, and other items. The compound is a known skin irritant and there is no supporting research for its oral or dental health benefits.

However, potassium citrate (produced by mixing potassium carbonate or bicarbonate with a solution of citric acid) has been shown to reduce tooth pain.

But Potash (potassium carbonate) and Potassium Citrate are different compounds and cannot be alternatives to each other.

Does alum have any role in oral hygine or dental health?

Preliminary studies have shown that Alum can help reduce the presence of bacteria in oral cavities and also reduce plaques in adults. Even in children, the use of alum-based mouthwash produced similar results.

Does salt have any role in oral hygiene or dental health?

Saltwater rinse is a commonly used age-old antibacterial measure, even prescribed by medical professionals for minor healing. Research has also found it useful in decreasing the oral bacteria levels in adults. However, there is limited research about the same on children.

Saltwater has also been found useful to reduce pain after tooth extraction.

Does pepper have any role in oral hygiene or dental health?

Indian Long Pepper (popularly called Pipli) has long been used in traditional alternative medicines as an effective mouth wash. However, research and medical evidence on it are limited.

Does Potash, Alum, Salt, Pepper mixture cure toothache?

No. There is no evidence for this claim.

Despite each of the ingredients being an effective antibacterial mouthwash, there is little evidence of them working as a pain reliever. The combination of four has also not been researched for treating any oral disease.

Pooja Bhardwaj, BDS
Dr. Pooja Bharadwaj

Dr. Pooja Bhardwaj, BDS says, “We need to understand that there can be multiple reasons for a toothache. Suppressing the pain and not seeking a medical consultation can lead to irreversible loss. Suggestions like these alum, or salt are common home remedies and may give varying degrees of pain relief. But these are not medically proven treatments. Moreover, compounds like Potash can actually harm the enamel of your teeth.

Dr Aashnaa Pillai

Dr. Aashnaa Pillai, BDS says, “There are multiple claims on home remedies for dental problems, which can surprisingly come with a string of side effects. Alum has been used for a long time in purifying drinking water but its uses to relieve toothache aren’t supported. Potash on the other hand is very corrosive and can lead to tearing down of the enamel which can eventually lead to sensitivity and other dental issues. Gargling with warm water and salt provides temporary relief from tooth sensitivity but it is recommended to always get in touch with your dentist to treat the cause of the toothache or sensitivity rather than experimenting with items found in your kitchen.”

In case of severe toothache, one should definitely not rely on home remedies and immediately rush to a Dentist to find the real cause behind the pain. Depending on such home remedies for a long may lead to
irreversible loss of tooth and associated structures.”

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.