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If your grandmother tells you to gargle or rinse with warm salt water when your throat hurts, or your mouth is sore, don’t ignore her advice! As it turns out, Grandma is right. Salt water is an ancient remedy to help when your mouth is healing, whether from dental surgery or an abscessed tooth, or for have a sore throat or even mouth sores. Salt water has historically been used by ancient Egyptians and Greeks, and the Chinese were using salt water to treat gum disease in 2700 B.C.!

Why Salt Water?
Bacteria generally thrive in an acidic environment, and salt water temporarily increases the pH balance in your mouth which makes the environment more alkaline. An alkaline environment prevents bacteria from breeding easily, keeping harmful bacteria at bay. Salt water is also isotonic (which means it has the same salts and minerals as our bodies and in the same concentrations), so it doesn’t irritate mucus membranes, unlike over-the-counter mouth washes.

How to Use a Salt Water Rinse
First, mix ½ teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water until it dissolves. Yyou can increase the amount up to a teaspoon if you like. Next, take a sip, hold it in your mouth and then swish gently around the gums. Finally, swish in the mouth for 30 seconds, spit, and repeat. If you are using salt water to heal after surgery, rinse your mouth every two to three hours, tapering off to three or four times a day. Salt water can also help your throat heal from strep, tonsillitis, and even help relieve the common cold.

What Are the Benefits to Salt Water?
–Reduces inflammation in the mouth.
–Eases swelling in the mouth.
–Loosens mucus in the mouth.
–Loosens food deposits caught between the teeth.
–Flushes irritants & bacteria in the mouth away.
–Heals tissues in the mouth.
–Is cost effective to make.
–Is environmentally friendly.
–Is convenient to make and use.

Salt water can be easily and quickly made anytime, anywhere, including emergency situations where you find yourself without access to regular toothpaste. Those who have sensitive mouths can also better tolerate a salt water rinse when they might not be able to use alcohol-based mouth washes due to allergic reactions.

Please note that salt water rinses are perfect to use during times of healing, or emergencies and are tolerated well as long as they are not used every day long term. Please give our dental office of Dr. Charles A. Peter a call at 727-785-7202 if you have any questions or concerns.