Is Gargling with Salt Water Effective?

We are often asked if gargling with salt water is effective and safe. Salt Water Rinses and Gargles are generally safe for many people. They are effective for some purposes and conditions.

A salt water rinse or gargle is an inexpensive, safe and easy way to relieve the mild pain associated with a number of gargling woman - paid - shutterstock 696604468problems affecting the mouth and throat. It has been used as a remedy for generations. Some people prefer it over the medicated gargles available in drug stores. It is a simple mixture of water and table salt. Anyone can make it, and most people can use it.

Salt water gargles are a helpful treatment for normal discomfort due to a sore throat. The American Cancer Society recommends it to soothe sore throats. It can help to keep the mouth clean and to prevent infections in people undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Gargling with salt water is generally used effectively for

  • Minor sore spots or irritation in the mouth.
  • Common sore throat.
  • Canker sores.
  • Inflammation due to allergies.
  • Upper respiratory infections (common colds, flu, sinus infections, mononucleosis). The salt water can mitigate symptoms and may help to prevent these infections.

In dental hygiene, gargling with salt water regularly can help to remove bacteria from the gums. This helps to clean the gums and the teeth and prevent any buildup of plaque and tartar. After a dental procedure, dentist commonly suggest rinsing the mouth with a warm salt water solution to keep the site clean and to prevent infection.

Gargling with salt water may kill some bacteria, but not all mouth and throat bacteria. The salt solution can, however, help to bring bacteria to the surface of the gums, teeth, and throat. By bringing the bacteria to the surface, some of it washes out when you spit out the salt water.

Recipe for Salt Water Gargle

Salt water solutions are easy to make with simple table salt and water.

The American Dental Association suggests this recipe:

  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 8 ounces of warm water
  • Mix until combined

The American Cancer Society recipe is:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Gargling Tips

  • Use only a comfortable amount of water in your mouth at once.
  • Gargle it around the back of your throat.
  • Rinse the solution around your mouth and gums.
  • Spit out the solution. (It is safe to swallow, but probably better to spit it out.)

Who Should Not Gargle with Salt Water?

Gargling with salt water is generally believed safe for both children and adults. People who have difficulty gargling should not use this solution. Young children may find gargling difficult. Ask your pediatrician or your dentist when it is safe for your child to gargle. People with high blood pressure or other medical conditions that suggest limiting salt intake, should discuss it with your doctor or dentist before using. If you cannot tolerate the flavor of salt water, you can add a small amount of honey to the solution to improve the flavor.

We are happy to discuss with you any questions you have about gargling with salt water or other solutions.