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The Science Behind Salt Water Rinses for Your Mouth

by Williams, Daily & Frazier on May 5, 2019 11:36:16 PM

If you’ve ever lost a tooth or had a sore throat, you’ve likely heard of salt water rinses. Salt water rinses have a long history of benefiting oral health. Salt promotes healing and reduces pain, which is why dentists often recommend salt water rinses for patients suffering from sore gums, oral surgery, or other oral health problems.

How Do Salt Water Rinses Work?

Salt water rinses have anti-bacterial and healing properties that make them perfect for sore throats, sores, healing gum tissues, and more. Salt temporarily increases the pH level of the mouth, creating an alkaline environment. Since bacteria prefer an acidic environment, they find this type of environment difficult to survive in. This is how salt water mouth rinses can help keep bacteria from multiplying in your mouth.

Salt’s healing properties stem from the fact that it is an isotonic solution that contains an equal concentration of the minerals and salts naturally found in the body. Because of this, salt water rinses will not irritate the mucous membranes the way some medicinal mouthwashes do.

Salt Water Rinse Uses

To use salt water rinses for oral health, all you have to do is gently swish the solution for about 30 seconds.

  • Sore Throats — Salt water rinses reduce sore throat pain and help promote healing. Some causes of sore throat that salt water rinses offer pain relief to are tonsillitis, the common cold, and strep throat.
  • Healing from Oral Surgery — Salt water rinses can promote natural healing and reduce pain and swelling after oral surgery. Salt water creates an environment bacteria have trouble surviving, and decreases swelling by forcing moisture out from the cells in your mouth responsible for the swelling. This is why many dental professionals recommend salt water rinses for wisdom teeth removal pain relief.
  • Relieves Oral Pain — A majority of the discomfort you feel when you have a toothache, or other oral injury is due swelling. Salt water rinses help decrease swelling, therefore offering pain relief.
  • Aids in Gum Health and Soothes Bleeding Gums — If you have irritated or bleeding gums caused by toothaches, gingivitis, or canker sores, a salt water rinse can help manage the pain.

Making Your Salt Water Rinse

Salt water rinses are easy to use and make. You can use any type of salt for a salt water rinse, and add in baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, honey, or many add-ins for additional healing properties. Most salt water rinse recipes call for 8 ounces of warm water and 1 teaspoon of salt.If your mouth is tender and the salt water rinse is stinging, you can use ½ tsp of salt instead of a full teaspoon for the first day or two.


To make the salt water rinse, bring your water to a boil using a stove or microwave. Remove your water from the heat, then add your salt and stir. This is also where you can add in your honey, hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda. Let the salt water cool to a warm temp before rinsing with it. Once you have finished your salt water rinse, you should discard any leftover solution to avoid contamination.


If you’re suffering from tooth pain and are thinking about resorting to salt water rinses, make sure you schedule an appointment with your dentist first. While salt water rinses are great for speeding up wound healing and decreasing mouth swelling, they won’t solve the root problem of your pain.

Williams, Daily & Frazier Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist in Raleigh, NC with a dedicated team of dentists, assistants, hygienists and administrators who are enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes.
Contact Williams, Daily & Frazier at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.