An effective way to maintain proper oral hygiene is by keeping teeth, mouth, and gums clean and healthy. It can be done by brushing and flossing daily. But apart from this, you can also opt for salt water gargle or salt water rinse. Salt water gargle is a frugal way of maintaining a good oral hygiene. Salt water gargle fights everything related to oral health, from gingivitis to bad breath. If you are suffering from a sore throat, salt water rinse can be a soothing inexpensive home remedy.
Salt water rinse can even help you recover more quickly from oral surgery. Salt water is preferred over mouthwash because it acts as a natural disinfectant and removes swelling around the tissues.
Further, in this article, we will see benefits of salt water gargle in detail with its procedure.
The science behind salt water gargle
Salt water gargle works on the simple chemical process of osmosis in which the solvent moves from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration in the tissue membrane.
Chemically, the sodium in salt water passes through the tissue membrane where the fluid infection is in lower concentration.
Sodium creating an adverse environment for the infection causing pathogen. This process enables the salt water to draw out the fluid from the infected tissues and relieves the pain.
Why is salt water rinse recommended over mouthwash?
Most of the mouthwashes are made up of 20% alcohol. Alcohols present in mouthwash increases the chances of oral or mouth cancer, which is a growing problem in most of the countries. So, mouthwash is not safe for daily purposes.
So, if you are trying to protect your teeth from decay or other gum diseases, then you need to go for salt water gargles at least 3-4 times a week.
How to make salt water gargle?
You just need salt and clean water to make salt water gargle. The water could be warm or cold since the effectiveness does not depend on the temperature of water. However, if you are suffering from a sore throat then warm water is a better alternative as it will provide you additional comfort.
- Add ½ a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water
- Gargle with salt water as long as you can hold. Later, you can rinse around your mouth for 10-12 seconds and then spit it out
- After brushing and flossing, you can use a salt water rinse 3-4 times a week
- However, you should not use a salt water rinse more often because too much sodium could have adverse effects on tooth enamel
- It is not recommended for children below 6 years of age to perform salt water gargling
Benefits of salt water gargle
Relieve from a sore throat
“Got a sore throat, gargle with salt water.” Doesn’t it sound familiar? Salt water gargle has been recommended for a sore throat since ages. Gargling with salt water provides symptomatic relief. Saltwater reduces swelling in the throat and loosens mucus. It flushes out irritants or bacteria.
Natural healing of gingival wounds
Salt water rinses are helpful in healing the wounds naturally. Gingivitis makes the gum weak and more susceptible to an injury. The salt water rinse increases blood flow to the affected area, which promotes quicker healing.
Prevents the growth of the pathogen
Where bacteria thrive, so does illness. Salt water rinses make the mouth alkaline and hence harder for bacterial spores to thrive and breed.
In other words, salt rinses lower the level of pH from rising. Salt water rinses also help in removing food particle stuck in your teeth.
Fights bad breath
Bad breath is caused mainly due to two factors such as the imbalance in pH level and presence of wanted bacteria. Salt water gargle neutralizes the pH and stops the bacteria from invading the oral cavity, which helps in getting rid of bad breath instantly.
Instead of using alcohol-based mouthwashes, one can use salt water rinse which is affordable and natural. The oral bacteria that the salt water combats can be responsible for everything from gingivitis to halitosis.
Treats a dry cough
Salt water works like charm in the treatment of a dry cough. It acts as an antitussive drug. Antitussive drugs mean drugs which helps to stop or prevent the formation of a cough.
Mouth ulcers are formed on cheeks and tongue due to accidental biting, allergies and hormonal imbalance. These ulcers can be sensitive and painful. Gargling with salt water can relieve pain and speed up the process of healing.
Relieves a toothache
One of the causes of a toothache is the formation of pus around the tooth due to bacterial infection. In that case, we are usually recommended antibiotics. Salt water can also be used to relieve the pain to some extent. Salt water flushes out some of the infectious fluid from the tooth and relieves pain.
Tonsillitis is an inflammation of tonsils due to bacterial or viral infection. Tonsillitis can cause a sore throat and difficulty in swallowing and coatings on the tonsils. Salt water relieves the pain and alleviates some of the symptoms.
Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeast Candida. Candida invades the oral cavity and starts growing in mouth, throat or esophagus. Salt water gargle helps to fight against Candida and prevents oral infection.
Salt is one of the cheapest ingredients which is readily available in supermarkets. This is the primary reason why this versatile ingredient can easily be added to your routine of dental health regime. Using a salt water rinse once a week can make a difference in your oral health.
Maintains the natural pH level of the oral cavity
A normal ph of the oral cavity is 6.7-7.3, but 7.5 is an ideal pH for healthy teeth. Salt water neutralizes the acids in the mouth and helps to maintain a healthy pH balance.
Normal pH prevents unwanted bacteria from accumulating and cause infections in the oral cavity. (1)
Salt water gargle may also help with an uncomfortable sore throat due to an allergic reaction.
Side effects of salt water gargle
Salt water gargle or rinse is beneficial for oral health. But it is not recommended for daily use. The reasons are as follow –
- Daily Salt water gargle can loosen the enamel layer of the tooth. Loosening of enamel layer makes the tooth more susceptible to eroding and chipping off. In short, it may cause tooth decay
- Salt water which has too much salt can cause dehydration in the lining of the throat and make it hurt even more
- During gargling, you may intake salt water. Swallowing too much salt water can dehydrate your body and also increase the chances of cardiovascular disease
Precautions to keep in mind while doing salt water gargle
Salt water does not cause any adverse effect yet these are few things to be taken care of. These are-
- Try not to swallow the salt water. Too much sodium in salt can elevate the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Salt water gargle should not be included in your daily oral health care because it demineralizes or softens tooth enamel which in turn makes your teeth sensitive to hot and cold
- Gargle with lukewarm water otherwise hot water might burn your throat and mucous membrane
Over to you on salt water gargle
Salt water gargle has myriad of benefits on maintaining a good oral health. It can also provide you with relief from various mouth and throat related infections. Salt water gargle should be limited to 3-4 times a week.