Salt Water Rinses and Gargles

A salt water rinse or gargle can help you maintain good dental health. The rinse can also be helpful in reducing pain and alleviating other symptoms of colds, flu and more. 


When to Use a Salt Water Rinse

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A salt water rinse might be the perfect treatment for some oral issues. These include:

  • After a dental procedure

  • To assist in removing bacteria from the mouth 

  • For a sore throat, to ease pain and prevent infection

  • To ease the pain and assist in healing of Canker Sores

  • To reduce the pain and swelling associated with some allergies

  • To treat symptoms of upper respiratory infections (colds, flu, mono, sinus infection)

  • To prevent upper respiratory infections: one study found that those using a salt water gargle were less likely to have respiratory infections.


How to Make a Salt Water Rinse

Salt water rinses and gargles are inexpensive and easy to make at home. 


American Dental Association Recipe: 

 ½ teaspoon of table salt

 8 ounces of warm water

 Mix until they are combined. 


Alternative Recipe:

  1 quart water

  1 teaspoon of salt

  1 te aspoon of baking soda

  Mix until they are combined.


Best Gargling Techniques

Typically, it is best to gargle once or twice each day. Gargle as long as possible to ensure effectiveness. Spitting out the solution when finished is recommended, but it is generally safe to swallow the solution. 

  1. Take as much of the solution into your mouth as you can do comfortably.

  2. Gargle around the back of your throat.

  3. Rinse around your mouth, teeth and gums

  4. Spit out the solution.


Other Tips and Insights

  • People who have difficulty gargling should not use a salt water rinse. 

  • Gargling with a salt water rinse is considered to be safe for children and adults.  

  • Some children may not be able to gargle. Ask your dentist or pediatrician when children are old enough to gargle.

  • People with high blood pressure or some other conditions that require limited sodium intake should discuss this with their dentist or doctor before beginning.

  • Those who cannot tolerate the taste of the salt water or salt water and baking soda solutions might add honey or garlic for flavoring.


Rinsing or gargling with a salt water solution might be recommended for many oral hygiene purposes and to soothe gums and throat when fighting an infection. The solution is easy to make with items you likely have on hand.