Saltwater rinses have long been a trusted method for killing bacteria and cleaning the oral cavity. In fact, humans have used salt for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, with the Ancient Egyptians using it possibly as far back as 1800 BCE (though current records make this hard to pinpoint).

Unlike many ancient medicinal traditions and practices, this one had some legs – salt is still used today for medical purposes. Saltwater rinses are one example of this, and there are many ways it can be beneficial for your oral health.

What do Salt Water Rinses do?

Saltwater rinses have a number of medical benefits. This natural saline solution has antibacterial properties, allowing it to clean your mouth better than tap water. Here are some specific ways that manifests.


Gum Irritation

Saltwater can soothe irritated gums, relieving any reddening or swelling from gingivitis or early stages of periodontitis.

Healing Properties

If you’re recovering from a procedure such as a tooth extraction or oral surgery, saltwater can speed up the healing process. This is why saltwater rinses are recommended following wisdom teeth removal, for example.

Rinses Food Particles

Rinsing with saltwater can help to loosen or dislodge food particles stuck in braces or between your teeth.

Reduces Bad Breath

As an antibacterial, saltwater helps to kill the germs that cause bad breath. This is a temporary solution, as the best way to avoid bad breath is to maintain consistent care of your oral health.

Sore Throat Relief

Gargling salt water has been shown to reduce sore throat inflammation from illness or allergies.

How to Make a Salt Water Rinse

  1. Sprinkle ½ to ¾ teaspoon of non-iodized salt into a clean cup.
  2. Pour 8 ounces of warm (not hot, not cold) water into the cup over the salt.
  3. Use a spoon or stirring straw to stir the mixture until the salt is completely dissolved into the water.
  4. Take a sip from the cup and swish the solution around your mouth for about 30 seconds. Ensure that the solution gets swished around your entire oral cavity.
  5. Spit the solution out into a sink or drain.
  6. Repeat the process 2-3 times daily or as directed by a medical professional.