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How To Make A Salt Water Rinse

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Knowing how to make a salt water rinse is indispensable because it is extremely effective and can be used for almost all types of dental conditions. It is also super easy to make because all you need is just salt and water, which everyone should have in their pantry.

Here is how to make the saline rinse:

  1. 4 oz of water - add room temperature water to a cup.

  2. 1 teaspoon of salt - add salt to water. Any salt will work such as table salt or even sea salt. Just make sure the solution is saturated with salt. What we mean by that is stir it and see if there is salt at the bottom of the glass. If there isn't you need to add more salt to saturate it.

  3. Stir mixture - lightly stir the salt and water together.

  4. Rinse for 1-2 minutes - swish and gargle around your mouth for up to 2 minutes but you may do it for longer.

  5. Spit out. Make sure you spit out the solution because you don't want to swallow all of that salt along with food and bacteria.

If you prefer video instructions, here is one by Dr. Matt Nejad on how to make the rinse:

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What dental conditions can it be used for?

A salt water rinse can be used after just about every dental procedure that you can think of.

  • Tooth extraction

  • Wisdom tooth removal

  • Deep teeth cleaning

  • Regular dental cleanings

  • Gum surgery

  • Implants

  • Dental crowns

  • Root canals

  • Cavity fillings

There isn't really a limitation as to what you can use a saline rinse for. The reason is because it is very gentle and does not cause any harm to your mouth.

In fact, it is so gentle that you can practically use it as your main mouthwash on a daily basis. What we mean is that you can actually replace that Listerine, Act, or whatever rinse that you purchased at your local pharmacy.

You can also rinse with it as often as you want because there is no such thing as overdoing it with a salt water rinse. This means you can rinse even 100 times a day with it if you are eager enough. It can only help with reducing plaque and gum inflammation the more often you use it!

What are the benefits of rinsing with salt water?

Despite a saline rinse only containing two ingredients, salt and water, it has an amazing array of benefits for your oral health.

  • Removes food particles

  • Eliminates plaque

  • Reduces gum inflammation

  • Minimizes gum bleeding

  • Fights bad breath

  • Creates hostile environment for bacteria

  • Buffers mouth acidity

  • Decreases chances of cavities

  • Promotes wound healing

Most people don't think about using salt water as an everyday mouth rinse because the first thing that comes to their mind is probably Listerine. Usually people become reacquainted with using salt for rinsing is after they have an oral surgery procedure such as getting their wisdom teeth removed. Their dentist will usually tell them to rinse with salt water on the day after the surgery.

Rinsing with salt water after a tooth extraction will promote wound healing by minimizing bleeding, inflammation and bacteria. It is the preferred rinse to use after the surgical procedure because it is the most gentle. In case you were wondering, acidic mouth rinses are never recommended after a tooth removal. The reason is because the acidity can aggravate the extraction socket and wound. Only salt water is gentle enough to be used post-operatively.

Can it potentially be dangerous?

A salt water rinse is very safe due to how gentle and non-acidic it is. It can be used as often as you like because it is impossible to overdo rinsing with salt. We're constantly eating and snacking throughout the day so it is good to rinse off all of the food particles and plaque that continues to accumulate.

However, there are a few situations where salt water can be harmful such as swallowing the rinse or using it on exposed tooth nerves.

  • Swallowing it. As harmless as salt with water can seem, swallowing it is not good for your health because excessive salt intake can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure). Doctors recommend that patients should always strive to lower their sodium intake because according to statistics, 1 in 2 adults in the United States have high blood pressure. Having chronic hypertension can eventually lead to heart disease so you do want to be careful and make sure you don't swallow your saline rinse. You don't want to end up with high blood pressure from innocently rinsing with it on a daily basis.

  • Exposed nerves. Rinsing with salt water can make a toothache worse sometimes, especially if it is on exposed tooth nerves. The reason is because the nerve is usually protected by the dentin, which is in turn protected by the enamel. Therefore, the tooth nerve has two layers of protection against external stimuli and it is not use to ANYTHING coming into contact with it. Tooth decay, food, and liquids will all cause nerve pain if they touch the nerve directly. This means that if you try to rinse with salt water on an exposed nerve, you will feel pain.

Those are just two situations where you would want to be cautious with this particular mouth rinse. Nonetheless, if you compare it to other mouth rinses, it has a lot less restrictions.

The acidic mouth rinses have significantly more limitations than just the two above for salt water. Here are some situations where an acidic mouthwash will make the situation worse:

  • Canker sores and cold sores

  • Open wounds

  • Exposed tooth nerves


It is very simple to make a salt water rinse because it literally only requires two ingredients, salt and water. Despite the simplicity, it is extremely effective as a preventative dental mouth rinse since it can be used on almost every dental condition that you can think of. The only exception is using it on exposed tooth nerves.

Aside from that, feel free to use it on a daily basis and even replace your regular mouthwash. Just remember that it still does not replace regular brushing and flossing so you still have to maintain your full oral hygiene routine. You also still need to check in with your dentist every 6 months to make sure you don't have any problems that may be brewing.

Author: Written by Dr David Chen, a dentist in long island city, NY.



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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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