Salt water has been used for centuries to aid in healing a variety of conditions.
By gargling salt water, you can help relieve throat infections and reduce inflammation caused by colds, flu, tonsillitis, and upper respiratory tract infections.
It can also be used as a natural remedy for sinus congestion, bronchial asthma, and many other ailments.
But salt water rinse has some unique benefits that can help you maintain and improve your oral health. In this article, we will explore the benefits of salt water rinse and how it can help your oral hygiene.
History Of Salt For Medicinal Use: Overview
Salt has long been used for medicinal purposes, dating back to ancient times. In ancient Greece, salt was used to treat skin rashes, ulcers, and wounds. The same was true in the Roman Empire and many other civilizations around the world.
In more recent centuries, scientists have studied the medicinal effects of salt more closely and found that it can indeed help to promote good health in certain contexts.
For instance, consuming certain types of salt can increase electrolyte balance levels, which are essential for proper functioning of cells.
Evidence also suggests that inhaling salty air may play a role in preventing respiratory diseases such as asthma or bronchitis when combined with other natural treatments such as steam inhalation or medicated baths.
Regardless of its scientific validity, the use of salt for medicinal purposes continues to be popular today, especially among people who follow holistic approaches to health care or those seeking natural treatments for various ailments. It is readily available at most stores and comes in many different forms (e.g., table salt, sea salt), offering different levels of minerals and trace elements that also benefit health.
How Do Salt Water Rinses Help Your Oral Health?
Aside from its many other health benefits and long history, salt water also benefits oral health.
Saltwater rinses work because salt has anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce inflammation of the gums and other tissues in the mouth. The antibacterial effect of salt also helps to kill bacteria that may be causing bad breath and gum disease.
Furthermore, salt is an electrolyte that helps balance fluid levels, improving hydration levels in the mouth and promoting healthy tissue.
How To Make A Salt Water Rinse
Making a salt water rinse at home is easy and inexpensive. All you need is a teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces (or one cup) of warm water.
Follow these steps to make a salt water rinse:
- Heat up water on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces (or one cup) of warm water.
- Swish the solution around your mouth for 30-60 seconds, then spit it out.
- Rinse your mouth with plain water to get rid of any remaining saltwater residue.
How To Rinse With Salt Water
Proper rinsing technique is essential to the success of a salt water mouthwash. To get the most out of your salt water rinse, follow this process:
Begin by filling a cup with eight ounces of warm water.
- Add one teaspoon of table salt and stir to combine the ingredients.
- Lean over the sink and tilt your head to the side.
- Using your other hand, gently pour the solution into your mouth.
- Swish the solution around your mouth for 30-60 seconds before spitting it into the sink.
- Rinse with plain water afterward to remove any residual salt from your mouth.
- Repeat this process up to four times daily for optimal results.
How Salt Inhibits Dental Bacteria
Salt water helps to inhibit bacteria growth in the mouth by creating an alkaline environment (i.e., increasing the pH balance) in your mouth, which is not conducive to bacterial growth. The salt also helps to break down plaque and reduce the acidity of saliva, which can help to reduce the risk of tooth decay.
It also helps wash away food particles that bacteria feed on. The swishing motion of the salt water rinse helps to disrupt the settled food, which can turn into dental plaque—a major cause of tooth decay, oral cavities, and gum disease.
Health Benefits Of Saltwater Rinses
Salt water rinses have numerous benefits for oral health. These include:
- Reduced inflammation of the gums
- Removal of bacteria and plaque
- Increased hydration levels in the mouth
- Balanced electrolyte levels
- Reduced acidity of saliva
- Better breath
- Pain relief after oral surgery
- Faster healing of mouth sores
These benefits are especially noticeable when incorporated into a regular oral health care routine. The combination of brushing, flossing, and salt water rinsing can help to keep your teeth and gums healthy and free of disease.
When Should You Use Salt Water Mouth Rinses?
Saltwater mouth rinses should be used as an adjunct to normal oral hygiene practices, not as a substitute for them. Depending on the severity of your oral health issues, it may be beneficial to use saltwater rinses multiple times a day or just once daily as part of your regular brushing and flossing routine.
Let's take a look at the best times to use a homemade salt water mouthwash.
After Tooth Extraction
Salt water is beneficial after a tooth extraction for several reasons:
- Pain relief. Extractions are invasive procedures that require cutting through gum tissue. The resulting pain in the days following may be relieved by rinsing with salt water.
- Reduces inflammation. Salt is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, meaning it can help reduce swelling and discomfort after an extraction.
- Kills bacteria. The antibacterial properties of salt can help to kill any lingering bacteria in the mouth that may have caused the infection in the first place.
- Dislodges debris. After an extraction, there are often small pieces of food or other debris that can cause discomfort or infection if left in the mouth. The swishing motion of a salt water rinse helps to dislodge this debris and keep your mouth clean and healthy.
Using mouthwash after a tooth extraction can sometimes cause burns, redness, and further irritation. As a less abrasive alternative, dental professionals usually recommend rinsing with salt water for the above benefits.
Periodontal disease (i.e., gum disease) is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria. It can cause irritation, pain, and bleeding in the gums if left untreated.
Salt water rinses are especially beneficial for people with periodontal disease because they help to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria that can worsen the disease.
The antibacterial properties of salt combined with the swishing motion of the rinse can help to effectively remove plaque and food particles from hard-to-reach places in between teeth.
More often than common oral infections, salt water mouthwash helps relieve pain from a toothache. Those with sensitive teeth can especially benefit from swishing with salt water as it is less abrasive than many commercial mouthwashes.
And if you have sensitive teeth after a dental cleaning or teeth whitening procedure, salt water provides a quick fix that can help to reduce the pain and discomfort.
Aside from gum disease, there are a few other infections that impact your teeth and gums that can benefit from salt water rinses.
Gingivitis, for example, is an infection of the gums that causes inflammation and pain. The antimicrobial properties of salt can help reduce both the inflammation and pain associated with gingivitis.
Infected tissue after a tooth extraction or root canal can also benefit from salt water rinses. The antimicrobial properties of salt can help to reduce the infection and promote healing.
Canker sores are small, irritating, and sometimes painful sores that can appear anywhere in your mouth. Salt water rinses are often recommended to help reduce the pain and promote healing.
As the granules of salt move back and forth past the sore, they soothe the pain and disinfect it, helping it disappear faster.
Food allergies, pollen allergies and certain medications can cause an allergic reaction that results in swelling or soreness of the gums.
Some allergic reactions require medical attention, but small reactions in the mouth can often be taken care of with salt water rinsing.
Salt Water Vs. Mouthwash
Salt water and mouthwash are part of the same category in the sense that they are swished around in the mouth for the purpose of oral health.
The main difference between the two is that salt water has antimicrobial properties, while most mouthwashes contain alcohol and other ingredients that can be irritating to sensitive gums (e.g., mouthwash burn).
Generally speaking, it is best to go for a natural remedy such as salt water when looking for relief from any kind of discomfort in the mouth. Salt water rinses are also more affordable and accessible than some commercial mouthwashes.
Mouthwash is classified as a cosmetic or therapeutic product and is regulated by the FDA as such. Different types of mouthwash also have different benefits, such as whitening, sanitization, and pure cosmetic purposes.
In short: Salt water is a simple home remedy for mild infections and pain relief, although it also has some oral health benefits. Mouthwash is a cosmetic or therapeutic product that should be treated as such.
5 Reasons Warm Salt Water Rinses Benefit Oral Health
Salt water can be therapeutic, reduce inflammation, and even kill bacteria in the mouth. Here are five ways a salt water rinse can help improve your oral health:
Salt water reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth by creating an environment that is hostile to their growth. Several infections and diseases, including gingivitis, are directly linked to an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth.
Especially in the case of chronic dry mouth (halitosis) and other oral conditions that impact the pH balance of the mouth, salt water can help regulate the environment and reduce the number of bacteria.
Protect Your Teeth
Salt water protects your teeth from some of the same bacteria that cause cavities. The antibacterial properties of salt water can help to reduce the number of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth and prevent further damage to your teeth.
It isn't a substitute for brushing and flossing, but can be an additional step to help protect your teeth.
Reduce Bad Breath
Bad breath can be caused by numerous different factors:
- Dry mouth
- Bacteria growth in the mouth
- Food particles caught between teeth
- Infections from tooth extraction, poorly fitting dentures, etc.
- Certain medications
Salt water rinses can help eliminate some of these causes by killing bacteria that cause bad breath and hydrating your mouth.
Because salt water is rich in minerals for teeth and gum health like calcium and magnesium, it can help to reduce inflammation in the mouth. This is especially beneficial for people with gingivitis or other inflammatory conditions that cause swelling or irritation.
Stop The Bleeding
After an oral surgery or during a dental procedure, salt water rinses can help stop the bleeding caused by cutting and removing gum tissue. The minerals in the water work to form a protective coating over the wound and reduce inflammation, helping it to heal faster. It won’t necessarily numb your mouth, but it will ease the pain.
Side Effects Of Rinsing Your Mouth With Salt Water
There are no documented side effects of salt water use for the purpose of oral hygiene. However, it is important to note that there are some cases where the use of salt water can be contraindicated, such as in people with hypertension or other medical conditions. In these cases, it is best to consult a doctor before using salt water rinses.
Diets high in salt can also increase your risk of dehydration and other health problems, so making the distinction between using salt water for oral hygiene and consuming too much salt is critical to your overall health, including that of your mouth.
The Bottom Line
Salt water rinses are an effective and accessible way to improve your oral health. They can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, protect your teeth from cavities, reduce bad breath, relieve inflammation, stop bleeding after surgery or during dental procedures, and provide other benefits.
Although there are no significant side effects, you should still exercise care when using saltwater rinses and talk to your doctor if you have any underlying health conditions or are on a sodium-restricted diet. With proper use, salt water rinses can be an important part of maintaining your oral hygiene.
Want to learn more? These are the questions our customers ask us the most.
Should You Gargle Saltwater Before Or After Brushing Your Teeth?
Brushing your teeth and gargling with salt water can be done in any order - whichever is most comfortable for you. When ready, take an appropriate amount of the solution into your mouth and rinse around all areas including behind the throat, gums, teeth, etc., swishing it back and forth for 15 to 20 seconds.
How Does Salt Water Heal Wounds?
For centuries, wounds have been treated with natural materials. One of these includes the use of briny seawater to help accelerate skin contact and promote rapid healing. To do this, a 7% table salt concentration is used in osmotic salt form that works to draw out moisture from the wound area which helps it dry faster and encourages new tissue growth.
Is Salt Water Good For Wounds?
Salt water is a good option for wound care due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It helps to reduce inflammation, draw out bacteria and toxins from the wound, and can speed up healing time. To use salt water as a wound treatment, rinse the affected area with a diluted solution of warm salt water every day until the wound is healed.
Does Salt Water Help Mouth Sores?
Although salt on its own can aggravate pain from canker sores, using a salt water rinse may help. This is because the warm solution helps to reduce inflammation and keep the area clean of bacteria. Salt water is even thought to have some antiseptic properties that can help aid in healing.
Is Salt Water Bad For Your Teeth?
Most dental professionals agree that salt water does not damage your tooth enamel. Salt water can actually be good for your teeth in several ways. Still, it is best to use saltwater within reason and to always follow up with your regular brushing and flossing routine.
How Much Salt For Salt Water Rinse?
Most recommendations for a salt water rinse suggest that you use a ratio of one teaspoon of salt to one cup (8 ounces) of warm water. The solution should be stirred until the salt dissolves and then gargled in the mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting into out.
How Long Should I Rinse With Salt Water?
Anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds is adequate time for salt water to work its wonders. While rinsing, make sure to swish the solution around your mouth and pay special attention to areas where you may have pain or swelling. Once finished, spit out the solution and rinse your mouth with regular water.
How Often Should You Rinse With Salt Water For Sore Gums?
For gum pain relief, you can rinse with salt water as much as needed. Typically, this is around four times per day for up to seven days. However, if you feel like your symptoms are getting worse or not improving after a few days, it is best to consult with your dentist for further advice.
How Long Does It Take For Salt Water To Heal Gums?
Salt water on its own cannot heal your gums. However, it can help to reduce inflammation and provide some temporary relief from gum pain. Generally, you should start seeing improved healing in about a week or two when used properly and along with other therapy recommended by your dentist.
Can I Use Saltwater As Mouthwash Every Day?
With no significant side effects, using saltwater as a mouthwash is generally safe. However, it should not be used every day because it can cause excessive drying of the oral cavity and make it difficult to maintain proper hygiene. To keep your mouth clean and healthy, use salt water rinse occasionally or when needed.
Should I Brush My Teeth After Salt Water Rinse?
Salt water rinse is not a substitute for brushing your teeth. After using the rinse, it is essential to brush as you usually would with a gentle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to keep plaque and bacteria away.
Can Salt Damage Teeth?
Salt itself might not damage your teeth, but if it is used in excessive amounts and combined with other acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar, it can contribute to enamel erosion. To protect your oral health and avoid tooth sensitivity, limit the amount of salt you use in a rinse and make sure to always follow up with regular brushing and flossing.
What Type Of Salt Is Best For A Mouth Rinse?
Himalayan salt works best for homemade salt water rinses since it is unrefined and minimally processed. It is chemically similar to regular salt, but it also has minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium that can help remineralize the teeth.
How Long Does Salt Water Rinse Take To Work?
Salt water rinse will usually provide relief from inflammation and pain after 30 seconds of swishing. However, the effects may vary depending on the severity of your condition. If you are using salt water as part of a dental treatment plan, make sure to follow up with your dentist for regular checkups in order to track progress.
Can You Use Table Salt For Mouth Rinse?
Table salt works for mouth rinse, but it is not the best choice as it contains additives that can harm your oral health. Himalayan salt or unrefined sea salt are better options since they don’t contain any chemicals and provide additional minerals for remineralizing the teeth.
Can Salt Water Tighten Loose Teeth?
As mentioned, salt water can draw out hidden bacteria that may reside within your gum tissue. As this bacteria is drawn out, your gums may tighten up, thus providing some temporary relief from loose teeth. While salt water rinse cannot alone tighten loose teeth, it is still a valuable part of any dental treatment plan.
What Happens If You Gargle Too Much Salt Water?
Overuse of salt water can dehydrate you and cause irritation in your mouth. It can also lead to increased sensitivity, bad breath, and dryness of the oral cavity.
Therefore, it is important to use salt water rinse only as needed and not more than four times a day.