Salt Water Rinses After Dental Cleaning


Dental cleaning is a routine procedure in which the tartar and plaque that build up on your teeth over time are mechanically removed. It is an important component of a healthy oral hygiene program and is generally preformed twice a year. While the process is generally painless, it can occasionally result in jaw discomfort and inflammation of the gums, particularly if a root cleaning or tooth scaling was required. Under these circumstances, a salt water rinse may provide you with a measure of relief.

The Cleaning

Once every six months, you should visit your dentist for a professional teeth cleaning. Even if your teeth appear clean to you, there may be plaque building up on the unexposed surfaces of the teeth. At the dentist office, a variety of instruments are used to scale, scrape and polish your teeth, removing unsightly stains and helping to prevent the development of cavities and gum disease.

The Rinse

To make a salt water rinse, simply mix ½ teaspoon of table salt in one cup of warm water. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved. Then transfer approximately ¼ cup of solution to your mouth and gently swish for 30 seconds, being sure to force the water over any areas that feel particularly tender. Then spit the water into the sink. Repeat until the entire cup is gone.


If you’d like to whiten your teeth at the same time, you can add one teaspoon of baking soda to your salt water rinse. The bicarbonate compounds not only make teeth whiter but they can also help to alleviate soreness at the gum line. Antioxidants such as rosemary or sage can be mixed in as well because they help to neutralize free radicals, which can damage tissue and inhibit healing.

How It Works

After the cleaning procedure, the tissues of the oral cavity may become inflamed and sore from minor damage caused by repeated contact with the dental instruments used to remove tartar. In response to the injury, the body undergoes what is known as "the inflammatory response," altering the permeability of the injured tissues in an effort to protect the area and keep infection fighting leukocytes in place. The outward physical result is redness, tenderness and swelling. Exposure to salt draws the excess water from the inflamed tissues, reducing the amount of physical discomfort in the process.


If after seven days you are still experiencing discomfort or if your symptoms show little to no improvement, contact your dentist and schedule another appointment. It is possible you have an infection that may respond better to prescription medication.

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