Gargling with salt water rinses offers many oral health benefits, from reducing inflammation to encouraging tissue regeneration.
Everyone knows that brushing and flossing can help keep your gums and teeth healthy. But did you know that performing salt water rinses can also improve your overall oral health?
People have been using salt to dry out and disinfect wounds since 1600 B.C.E. Today, people often gargle saltwater solutions to combat common oral health problems, such as gingivitis, bad breath, and toothaches.
How Salt Water Rinses Benefit Overall Oral Health
Salt water rinses increase the pH balance within your mouth, making it a more alkaline environment. Since bacteria thrive in acidic environments and salt removes water from bacteria via osmosis, swishing with salt water can stop bacterial growth and reduce plaque and inflammation. This reduction in bacteria will reduce your likelihood of getting sick or developing a sore throat, bad breath, cavities, or gum disease.
In addition to the disinfectant properties, saltwater solutions promote tissue regeneration. Salt encourages gingival fibroblast migration and increases extracellular matrix components — all without causing irritation, burning, or pain. These rinses can also prevent dry sockets from developing following a tooth extraction. Consequently, many dentists recommend using salt water rinses after dental procedures to promote healing.
Salt water rinses can also soothe toothaches, sore throats, canker sores, and inflamed gums. They can even draw out excess fluid from infected gums. Plus, they positively affect the respiratory system, so they’re helpful when facing allergies, the common cold, upper respiratory infections.
Salt Water vs. Mouthwash
While both salt water rinses and mouthwashes can help improve your oral health and reach places your toothbrush can’t, rinses are cheaper than mouthwashes and just as effective at killing bacteria. After all, you probably already have salt in your home.
Plus, some mouthwashes have a high alcohol content, meaning they can irritate your gums as they clean. On the other hand, rinses will kill bacteria and clean your gums without irritating them.
How To Rinse With Salt Water
When it comes to gargling with a saltwater solution, you can rinse before or after brushing. Start by taking some water into your mouth. Then, gargle it around the back of your throat and swish it around your mouth. After 15 to 20 seconds, spit the solution out into the sink.
Aim to rinse with salt water three to four times per week. Doing too many salt rinses can cause gum irritation, bleeding, and enamel erosion. If you’ve recently had a tooth pulled, wait 24 hours before using a salt water rinse. Once the 24 hours are up, gently swish the saltwater mixture around your mouth to ensure you don’t dislodge any blood clots and cause dry socket.
How To Make A Salt Water Rinse
All you need is warm water and salt to make your own rinse at home. Just fill a glass with warm water, add half a teaspoon of salt, and stir.
Not only is warm water more effective than cold water at dissolving salt, but it’s also more soothing to sore throats. To increase the solution’s healing and soothing characteristics, add hydrogen peroxide or honey to the mixture.
Practicing Good Oral Hygiene
While using a saltwater solution can reduce bacteria, fight infections, and soothe sore throats, toothaches, canker sores, and inflammation, you should still brush and floss every day to prevent plaque accumulation and bacteria growth. You should also visit your dentist twice a year.
If you live in the San Diego area, stop by Espire’s La Mesa office. Our dentists will be able to answer any questions you have about the benefits of rinsing with salt water, thoroughly clean your teeth, and check for any early signs of decay or gum disease. Contact us today!