Salt water saline rinses have been around for a very very long time, and that’s because they work. And they work well.
What salt water rinses are used for
Salt water rinses are usually recommended for tissue healing in the mouth, and also to prevent infection. This includes people who have undergone oral surgery, have oral piercings, canker sores, cuts from braces, sore throat, or any irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth.
Concentration is key
Salt water rinses are only effective if the concentration of salt is at least a MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) of 0.7 M.
If you don’t have this concentration it won’t kill the bacteria, and it will not be effective.
Salt water rinse recipe and how to use
At least ½ teaspoon to every 1 cup of water. This will give you a 0.9 M concentration which is more than enough to inhibit the bad bacteria in your mouth.
- Warm 1 cup of water in the microwave. You do not want it hot!
- Stir in and dissolve at least ½ a teaspoon of table salt.
- Once dissolved completely, you can then start rinsing.
- Take a mouthful of the salt water and gently swish it around your mouth for at least 5-10 seconds and spit it out.
- Repeat until the whole cup of salt water is used.
You will want to do a salt water rinse at least 1-4 x a day for 1 week if your aim is healing, but if you are rinsing with it to replace mouthwash you don’t want to do it too often, even just 1 x a week will do.
You don’t want to do it too often if it is not necessary because it can have a negative impact on the tooth surface.
Don’t forget about the toothbrush and floss!
Remember, it’s the mechanical removal of the plaque on your teeth that will improve your oral health the most.
Mouth rinses are not a replacement for flossing and brushing.
You will want to floss and brush before doing the salt water rinse because
When you should not do salt water rinses
Do not do salt water rinses if you are on a salt-restricted diet. Make sure to check with your doctor to make sure it is safe to do.
If you are worried about swallowing the salt, you can lean over the sink while doing it and just keep drooling over the sink once you have completed the salt water mix.