The thought of losing a tooth or having teeth which look unappealing is the thing which drives most people to seek regular dental help and to instigate a strict oral health regime. Most people’s main fear is probably that a tooth will be affected by a cavity to the point at which it can’t be saved and has to be extracted, or becomes so compromised that it simply breaks or falls from the mouth. The truth, however, is that gum problems such as gingivitis pose a much greater threat to the integrity of your teeth, since swollen and infected gums recede back from the teeth leaving them unstable and, in a vicious circle, more likely to be attacked by bacteria and decay. Although there are very many expensive and highly complex oral health products available, one simple solution to many problems, and something which has been around for centuries, is rinsing with salt water. Looking back through the historical records it is possible to find references to saltwater being used to treat gum disease as far back as ancient China in the year 00 B27.C., whilst the Roman author Pliny the elder, who lived from 23 to 79 A.D., is said to have recommended its’ use to the Roman upper classes.
Dentists often recommend a course of saltwater rinses as part of the recovery process after having a tooth extracted, or when dealing with a mouth sore. The salt in the water helps because it is a natural disinfectant and also helps to reduce inflammation. It can also be used as a temporary mask for bad breath, although the underlying cause for bad breath, which might include gingivitis, should always be discussed with your dentist. A study which took place in India in 2010 uncovered some of the benefits of rinsing the mouth with saltwater. According to this study, which had 45 participants, rinsing the mouth once a day with a solution of nine teaspoons of slat in two thirds of a cup of water killed the bacteria which might otherwise be present in the mouth. If left unchecked, these bacteria can be the cause of problems such as gum disease or bad breath. Take Care While You Wash Your Mouth “Dentists warn, however, that using a saltwater mouthwash on a daily basis could be problematic in the long term because the saltwater tends to be fairly high in acid and this can weaken the enamel of the teeth.” “Whilst commercial mouthwash tends not to be acidic it does often contain alcohol which can be a problem in itself in that the exposure of the mouth to high levels of alcohol is known to be one of the factors which contributes to oral cancer.” The most likely approach to be recommended by a dentist is that saltwater should be used to rinse for two or three weeks following surgery in the mouth, or when the patient has an infection or an ulcer, but that, in the long term, the best option would be a mouthwash which contains fluoride but is free from alcohol. If you’re in any doubt pay a visit to your local clinic and chat to your dentist or hygienist, as they will be only too happy to discuss options with you.