Lost a filling – A temporary cavity fix and Survival toothbrush.

Paul Pinkerton

Temporary cavity fix:

Candle wax works to keep the air out of a cavity but easily falls out while eating and drinking. First, gargle with warm salt water and swill it vigorously around your teeth. This kills many of the harmful bacteria.


When you lose a filling, it hurts because the sensitive nerve is exposed and cool air irritates it.

To make a temporary filling, light a candle and drip wax on a clean surface. Scrape up the wax while still warm mold it into the cavity hole.


If the wax falls out at any time before resealing the cavity gargle with warm salt water again to clean and stop bacteria from growing in your tooth.

Survival toothbrush:

Throughout the Middle East and Africa, the root of the arak tree, or Salvadora persica, is used as a natural toothbrush. It has antiseptic and astringent properties which help to clean and protect teeth and gums.


To use arak root, soak the root in water for a few hours to soften the natural fibers. Then, scrape off a little bark from the tip and gently chew until fibers have separated and the root becomes brush-like.

Clean the teeth by rubbing the root up and down as you would a conventional plastic toothbrush. When the fibers become overused, simply cut off the tip, scrape off more bark, and continue to use as before.

The root has a slightly bitter taste but is highly effective. I had to use this method for two years in Africa and flossed with waxed sewing thread; upon returning to Europe, my dentist told me my teeth were in excellent order.



Any fibrous root will work, the root of the coco palm can also be used. Always check that any root you use is safe by applying the “Universally Accepted Edibility Test for Florae.”


Thanks to James Manderville for this survival tip.  Jame is an ex-Army survival instructor and runs the popular survival website site Survival Expert. He has many years experience in difficult terrain, notably the Amazon, the African bush and climbing in various mountain regions including the Drakensburg Mountains and the Andes.



jack-beckett is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival