Rubbing salt on the gums is a folk remedy often lauded for its quick relief against oral discomfort. However, it’s a practice that warrants scrutiny. In this post, we shall delve into the facts and myths surrounding this method, providing a well-rounded perspective on its true efficacy. Let’s get started.

I. Does rubbing salt on the gums really help?

1. Can you put salt directly on sore gums?

Historically, salt has been recognized as a relatively affordable and readily available home remedy.

Many people, perhaps even your grandparents, could attest to the practice of applying salt directly to inflamed gums or an oral abscess.

Well, to initiate our understanding of this topic, let’s simplify things a bit.

Salt, scientifically known as sodium chloride, acts as a natural disinfectant due to its osmotic effect, i.e. its ability to extract fluid from bacteria and reduce swelling.

Therefore, when used judiciously, it can offer temporary relief from gum discomfort.

Now, to come to the question of the application, how to go about it? Gently rubbing a pinch of salt directly on the painful area may seem instinctive.

However, such a direct approach could cause increased irritation or even burning sensations in some people, especially those with sensitive oral mucosa.

So here’s a subtler method that might be better: dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swish the solution around in your mouth for about thirty seconds before spitting it out.

This procedure, known as a saline mouthwash, can help soothe sore or infected gums without the harsh impact of undiluted salt.

2. How do you apply salt to an infected gum?

We just have to remember that applying the salt directly to an infected gum can be a little harsh (not recommended even by some dentists) due to the abrasive nature of the salt, but if you wish to do it, here are the steps:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly to avoid introducing additional bacteria to the infection.
  • Take a pinch of table salt, preferably sea salt (untreated due to its high mineral content).
  • Gently apply it directly to the infected area of your gum line. Be careful not to rub or press too hard as this may cause more pain and irritation.
  • Let the salt act for a few minutes, it could cause a slight sting.
  • To remove salt residue, rinse your mouth well with warm water.

I reiterate that this procedure should only be used as a temporary remedy and that it may not be good for all types of gum tissue.

3. How does salt affect gum disease?

Salt, or sodium chloride, plays a central role in the fight against gum disease.

When used as a rinse, it creates a hostile environment for bacteria, inhibiting their growth.

Saltwater rinses can help maintain oral hygiene by removing debris and food particles from the mouth.

In addition, they can reduce inflammation and promote the healing of diseased gums.

4. Can I put salt on swollen gums?

Yes, you can use salt on swollen gums, but it’s generally recommended to use it in the form of a saltwater rinse rather than applying it directly as just discussed above.

Saltwater rinses can relieve discomfort and reduce inflammation.

However, if the swelling persists for more than 3 days without any improvement, it is advisable to consult your dentist.

5. Does salt draw out infection in the tooth?

Saltwater rinses can actually help manage a dental infection.

Salt, being a natural disinfectant, can help eliminate some of the infection and provide temporary relief.

It works by creating a saline environment that can help sterilize the infected area.

The mechanism by which salt helps to eliminate pus in infections is linked to a process called osmosis.

Osmosis is the passage of water through a semi-permeable membrane, such as the cell membrane, from a location of lower solute concentration to a region of higher concentration.

When salt comes into contact with bacterial cells, it creates a concentration imbalance.

To restore the balance, the water inside the bacterial cells moves outwards, which can lead to dehydration and eventual death of the bacterial cells.

This can help reduce infection and eliminate pus.

6. How often should you rinse with salt water for sore gums

According to various sources, including HealthTap and West Cobb Periodontics & Implant Center, the recommended frequency for saltwater rinses is around 3 to 4 times a day.

This frequency is particularly recommended in the days following a dental procedure, such as an extraction.

The saltwater rinse should be swirled in the mouth for 1-2 minutes before being gently spat out.

It is necessary to note, however, that prolonged washing might possibly harm enamel, thus moderation is required.

7. Should I rinse my mouth after salt water?

After a salt water rinse, it’s not really necessary to rinse your mouth with water.

On the contrary, this salt water rinse is intended to remain in your mouth to continue its antibacterial and healing effects.

However, some experts advise that if the taste of salt is too overpowering or unpleasant, you could rinse your mouth with lukewarm tap water.

It really is necessary to remember that rinsing should be done gently, especially after dental surgery, to avoid disrupting any healing process.

III. How long does it take for saltwater to heal gums?

The process of healing gums with salt water can vary according to the severity of the condition. It can take from a few days to 2-3 weeks, depending on age and the individual’s immune response.

However, according to information gathered from U Smile Dental and CyberHowTo, the salt water rinse begins to act on the gums within 15 to 30 seconds of application.

This process should be repeated at least three times a day to ensure that it works on your gums.

It’s important to remember that while salt water can aid the healing process, it’s not a substitute for professional dental treatment.

IV. Benefits of Warm Salt Water and Vitamin C for Gum Health

Salt, when dissolved in warm water, can help reduce gum inflammation and fight bacteria, thereby promoting healthy gums.

Plus, it can be incredibly soothing to a sore or irritated mouth not only effectively, but almost instantly.

On the other hand, vitamin C, renowned for its powerful antioxidant abilities, plays an essential role in the synthesis of collagen, which is essential for healthy gums.

Regular intake can help fortify your gums, making them more resistant to infection and disease.

Additionally, numerous studies show a tangible correlation between low vitamin C levels and periodontal disease.

V. Coconut oil and Saltwater Rinse Benefits for Gum Health

Combining coconut oil with a saltwater rinse can have several positive effects on gum health.

The antibacterial qualities of coconut oil are well recognized for helping to eliminate dangerous oral germs that can cause gum disease, foul breath, and tooth decay.

Additionally, it helps enhance gum health and lessen inflammation, which makes it a useful supplement to your dental hygiene regimen.

Salt water rinses, as mentioned above, can help fight gum infections by removing excess fluid from infected tissue and killing bacteria.

The combination of coconut oil and salt water can provide a powerful natural remedy for maintaining gum health.

VI. Does salt water help receding gums?

At the heart of the matter, receding gums are a significant concern. They expose the root surfaces of teeth, resulting in sensitivity and potentially, tooth loss.

Saltwater, commonly hailed for its antimicrobial properties, seemingly offers a remedy. It’s believed to combat bacterial infection, which may be instrumental in stemming the tide of gum recession.

However, evidence corroborates only a portion of this narrative. While saltwater undeniably has a part to play in oral hygiene, facilitating temporary relief from symptoms associated with gum disease, it isn’t a foolproof solution for receding gums.

A persistent misconception requires clarification. Saltwater rinses may alleviate discomfort, yet, they do not directly reverse gum recession. They are adjuncts in oral care routines, not the panacea for receding gums.

VII. Side effects of rinsing the mouth with salt water

As has been pointed out several times, saline rinsing is an age-old oral hygiene practice.

Its popularity is based on its ability to temporarily relieve discomfort and fight bacterial infections in the mouth.

Many even resort to the direct method of “rubbing salt on the gum abscess” for immediate relief.

However, everything, when overused, can have its drawbacks. The same applies to saltwater rinses.

Regular, excessive use can potentially lead to dry mouth due to the dehydrating nature of salt.

It can strip the oral cavity of its natural moisture, which unfortunately makes it a hospitable environment for harmful bacteria.

Ironically, this defeats the main purpose of using it as an effective natural remedy.

In addition, when used excessively, it can, unfortunately, disrupt the natural pH balance in the mouth, which is a guarantor of oral health.

It can even sometimes increase the risk of tooth decay, especially if used as a sort of replacement for the usual oral hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing.

VIII. Can rubbing salt on your gums help with toothache?

It’s true that salt water, when applied to the gums, can help draw fluids away from the affected area, reducing swelling and temporarily relieving discomfort.

Therefore, it’s not totally unfounded to say that rubbing salt on your gums could, indeed, offer momentary relief from toothache.

But it should by no means be considered a definitive cure for toothache.

Relief is unfortunately often temporary, and salt cannot treat the root cause of toothache, which can range from tooth decay and gum disease to infection.

Not to mention that excessive use of salt could sometimes lead to dry mouth which results in a lack of saliva and an imbalance in the pH of the mouth, which could potentially aggravate dental problems.

IX. Is there scientific evidence supporting the use of salt on gums?

Yes, there are some scientific studies that support the use of salt on the gums. A study published by the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry found that salt water was effective in reducing dental plaque while helping in the prevention of oral disease.

Another study from the National Institutes of Health also showed that using a sea salt-based mouthwash in daily oral hygiene greatly reduced levels of bacteria in the mouth.

Additionally, a study cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information demonstrated that rinsing with saline solution promotes the healing of human gingival fibroblasts.

However, while these studies prove the benefits of salt for gum health, it’s important to remember that salt water rinses shouldn’t replace regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene practices.

X. Can salt help with gingivitis or periodontitis?

When we talk about gum health, two conditions often come to mind: gingivitis and periodontitis.

The former is inflammation of the gums, usually caused by plaque build-up. This is reversible with good oral hygiene.

Gingivitis, however, can progress into periodontitis, a dangerous illness that harms the gums and, in severe cases, can obliterate the jaw, if left untreated.

And that’s where our unpretentious salt comes in.

It may sound strange, but studies indicate that salt could play a key role in combating these conditions.

Salt, when used in warm water rinses, can help fight bacteria, an underlying culprit in gingivitis.

Additionally, these rinses might soothe sore gums and reduce gingivitis symptoms.

As for periodontitis, it’s a more complex beast, involving aggressive bacteria and requiring professional dental care.

While salt rinses can help reduce bacteria levels, they are not a stand-alone treatment. They complement regular brushing, flossing and routine dental check-ups.

XI. What type of salt is best for gum health?

You might be surprised to discover that there is no conclusive scientific consensus that any single form of salt – whether sea salt, table salt, or Himalayan pink salt – has a substantial benefit over others for gum health.

However, salt in general, when used as a rinse in warm water, can create a hostile environment for bacteria and soothe inflamed gums.

XII. Is it safe to use salt on gums for children?

In general, it is widely believed that children can safely rinse their mouths with a saltwater solution.

But this must be done under adult supervision to prevent them from swallowing the solution, which could possibly lead to mild stomach upset.

And again, this rinsing should complement, not replace, regular dental hygiene practices. And again, this rinse should complement, not replace, the regular dental hygiene practices.

XIII. Can salt on gums help with bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums can be an indication of gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.

As we saw above, saltwater rinses can soothe inflamed gums and help reduce bacteria, but remember that they’re not a panacea.

Suppose you regularly see blood after brushing or flossing. In that case, it may be a sign of more serious dental problems like periodontitis, which requires professional dental care and sometimes even the onset of anemia.

XIV. Can using salt on gums lead to tooth sensitivity?

Sensitivity occurs when the enamel, or outer layer of the tooth, wears down, exposing the underlying dentin and its channels leading to the tooth’s nerve center.

These channels can transmit intense sensations from hot, cold, sweet, or very acidic foods and drinks directly to the nerves, leading to sharp, shooting pain.

Now, salt itself isn’t responsible for tooth sensitivity, but if the enamel is already eroded, excessive or improperly used salt rinses could potentially exacerbate the issue.

How so? Well, the abrasiveness of salt crystals could potentially harm the already exposed dentin when used in excess.

Therefore, a balance is needed. While salt can be beneficial for gum health, overuse might tip the scales towards tooth sensitivity.

Useful Links:

Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Prevalence of periodontal disease, its association with systemic diseases and prevention

Efficacy of Sea Salt-Based Mouthwash and Xylitol in Improving Oral Hygiene among Adolescent Population: A Pilot Study

Rinsing with Saline Promotes Human Gingival Fibroblast Wound Healing In Vitro

Comparison of the effect of salt water rinse, sugar-free chewing gum and tooth brushing on the pH of saliva