October 13, 2018
Salt water rinses have a long history, dating back to some of the oldest medical scripts from the Egyptians, Greeks, and the Chinese. References to saline rinses as an anti-infective and anti-inflammatory go as far back as 2700 B.C. Even today, the practice of using a saline solution is still relevant. If you have a sore throat, sores on your gums and mouth, or recently had dental surgery, you might benefit from using a salt water rinse, but perhaps not for the reasons you think.
Benefits of using a saltwater rinse
Dentists recommend a saline solution for dental surgery aftercare because it:
- Soothes mouth sores and swollen gums by reducing inflammation
- Increases blood flow to the mouth to promote healing
- Mechanically loosens and removes food particles
- Slightly reduces the breeding and growth of bacteria
- Helps freshen breath
How does it work?
The salt water rinse is mostly used to relieve inflammation because it is a hypertonic solution. This means it contains a higher concentration of salt than the salt within the inflamed cells. Edemas (inflammations) from infection or surgery are often filled with water. And when you rinse with warm salt water that contains more salt that body fluids, it draws out edema fluid through the process of osmosis. The salt water solution does not irritate the mucous membranes like other mouthwashes containing alcohol. Saline solutions should not burn or cause pain and leaves the soft tissues less irritated. Salt water can also draw water from bacteria, and as they lose body fluid they cannot remain active. That said, most bacteria are resistant to the levels of sodium chloride in a saline rinse.
How to make a salt water rinsе
Making a salt water rinse is a simple, cost-effective home remedy recommended by many dental care providers. To make the solution bring about eight ounces of water to a rolling boil to disinfect. Turn off the heat and let water stand until warm. Dissolve 1/2 to a full two teaspoons of salt (depending on your sensitivity) in an eight-ounce glass of the warm water. A good addition is a teaspoon of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate. This increases the pH balance of the water, making it more alkaline and increasing the antibacterial properties.
How to use a salt water rinse
To use the saline rinse, gently swish the mixture around your mouth, gargle, and carefully spit. Don’t swallow the solution because if too much salt is ingested it can cause dehydration. It should take about five minutes to use the entire glass. Once you are finished discard any remaining saline solution. For the first two days after surgery, you should rinse every couple of hours, up to eight times a day. After that, you should use it after every meal and every snack and can repeat up to four times a day until inflammation is gone.
Using a salt water rinse to boost your oral health
Dental care isn’t exclusively about brushing and flossing. Adding a salt water rinse to your oral hygiene routine can boost oral health, fight gingivitis, and prevent bad breath. You can implement this practice in moderation, maybe one or two times a week. But do not use a saline solution more often than that. Too much sodium can harm the mucosa.