Why Do Dentists Recommend Warm Salt Water Rinses?
Has your dentist suggested that you rinse out your mouth with salt water? This is a popular piece of advice for a variety of dental concerns, whether you are experiencing a simple toothache or are recovering from oral surgery. However, do you really know why your dentist is recommending this? Find out more about the magical salt water solution that your dentist is always talking about.
The History Behind Salt Water Rinses
The use of salt water in dental health isn’t a new concept. In fact, salt has been used for health care purposes since as early as the times of Ancient Egypt. Research has found evidence that as early as 1600 B.C., recipes were created for a variety of treatments using salt, particularly in the case of relieving infections. The ancient Greeks also used it for similar purposes and its anti-inflammatory effects.
The reason that so many medical and dental professionals recommend the use of salt water rinses is because the liquid can help to reduce dental bacteria. Salt water will temporarily boost the pH balance of your mouth, leading to an alkaline environment in which harmful bacteria will find it difficult to survive. Bacteria prefer an acidic environment, so if you use the salt water solution frequently, it can be hard for the bacteria to multiply.
Salt is also thought to promote healing, so it is especially useful when swished within the first 24 hours following a dental surgery. Salt water is an isotonic solution, meaning it contains the same minerals and salts as our bodies and won’t irritate the mucous membranes like a traditional mouthwash might.
Benefits of Using Salt Water
While it is clear that salt water can be beneficial in killing bacteria of the mouth, there is no evidence to suggest that you should use salt water on a daily basis or that it should replace your traditional mouth wash. However, there are a few great benefits to using a salt water solution as a rinse:
- Convenience. Salt water is easy to prepare and procure, and it is commonly recommended for people who don’t have access to regular mouthwash options.
- Cost-effective. Some people do prefer salt water over commercial mouthwashes, and they note that it is a more cost-effective option than buying Scope or Listerine every few weeks. Additionally, rinses involving salt water are more environmentally friendly than a traditional mouthwash.
- No alcohol. If you aren’t able to use traditional mouthwashes because of the alcohol content, salt water solutions might be a great option for you. For example, recovering addicts or people with especially sensitive mouths may want to go this route, and you’ll be able to continue with your oral health routine without being subjected to an ingredient that could cause you discomfort.
Using Your Salt Water Rinse
Salt water rinses are easy to make. Simply dissolve about a half a teaspoon of salt into a glass of water, and you’ll have mouthwash for several days. Many people choose to begin with a smaller amount and gradually increase the potency of their rinse.
To use a salt water rinse, sip on a bit of the liquid, only taking as much as you can comfortably hold in your mouth without feeling the need to spit. Swish it around your mouth, ensuring you get around your gums, for at least 30 seconds, and then spit it into the sink. Some people choose to do a second rinse in order to further remove buildup on the gums and teeth. You should then follow up with your normal brushing and flossing routine.
If you have questions about whether rinsing with salt water is right for you, feel free to contact our office.