An oral saline solution, or saltwater mouth rinse, is used to cleanse and relieve pain associated with canker sores, after oral surgery, and for general mouth pain.
Salt Water vs. Mouthwash
Traditional mouthwashes, many of which have alcohol in them, can irritate swollen mucous membranes in the mouth.1 That’s a big reason why dentists suggest using saline solution, also called saltwater mouth rinse, to relieve the pain and swelling that comes after a deep cleaning or other dental procedures like a tooth extraction.
Saltwater rinses have been proven to:
- Soothe mouth sores or bleeding gums
- Heal a sore throat
- Freshen breath
- Loosen and remove food
How to Make Salt Water Mouth Rinse
You can easily make a good saline solution at home since it only requires two to three ingredients that almost everyone has in their kitchen. A fresh batch should be made every time you use this rinse.
- 8 ounces warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda (optional)
Saltwater mouth rinse is easy to make and takes only about 10 minutes to prepare:
- Start by bringing 8 ounces of warm water to a rolling boil, about 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat.
- Let the water stand until it’s cool enough to rinse with but still warm (this will better allow the salt and optional baking soda to dissolve in the next steps).
- When cooled accordingly, place the salt in the water while gently stirring until the salt has been completely dissolved.
- As an option, dissolve the 2 teaspoons of baking soda in the water along with the salt.
- Use the saline solution as directed and discard any leftover solution.
Make the solution fresh for each use.
How to Use
Unless otherwise directed by your dentist or physician, swish the solution around in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit the solution out. Don’t swallow it. Nothing will happen to you if you do swallow it, but it’s not necessary.
Saltwater mouth rinse can be used up to four times a day for treatment for up to two weeks with no adverse effects. However, over time an oral saline solution may adversely affect the tooth enamel, causing decay.
Saltwater is also a good toothache aid. Rinsing with warm salt water two to three times a day may help to relieve a toothache because saltwater works as an antiseptic. It gently removes bacteria from the infected area.
Oral Baking Soda Paste
If you want to target a specific sore in your mouth, such as a canker sore, it’s easy to create a paste. Start by mixing baking soda and small drops of water gradually until the paste is a thick consistency, close to the consistency of toothpaste. Cover the canker sores with the paste. Repeat as often as necessary.