Dental hygiene correlates to your overall health. A bright white smile that boosts your confidence is not only good for your mental health but is also an indicator of immaculate oral hygiene.
Your Utah family dentist only constantly reminds you to do your cleanings bi-annually and brush and floss daily because of how vital it is to your oral health. They know the importance of regular flossing, brushing, and mouth rinses. Those simple actions should be a habit. They should be a normal part of your daily routine and if you have kids, it’s important to pass those habits down to them as well.
Toothpaste should be a staple in every home. However, recently, a common household seasoning — salt — has taken the U.S. by storm as a new dental cleaner. Many claim that salt has cleaning properties and is gentle enough on the gums. My bet is that the word spread at the speed of light on a social media platform such as Tik Tok. And now everyone is wondering, “Can I ditch the toothpaste and brush my teeth with salt?” Let’s discuss it.
The Benefits of Salt
Salt is very good for the mouth but in the right way. Recent studies found that adding sea salt to toothpaste can lead to high abrasive dentin wear—without providing any additional oral benefits. Furthermore, going the full-on DIY route and putting plain salt directly on your teeth is not recommended due to salt’s abrasive nature. It could cause permanent tooth damage.
However, the best way to incorporate salt into your dental hygiene and reap the benefits is to utilize salt water rinses. Rinsing your mouth with lukewarm salt water has many benefits for your mouth. Some of them include:
1. Soothing and Cleaning After a Tooth Extraction
An article in Evidence-Based Dentistry found that rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water rinse twice daily can significantly reduce your chances of getting a dry socket after a tooth extraction, which is a dreadful, throbbing pain caused by exposure to the bare alveolar bone. Dry sockets are not fun, so if you are getting your wisdom teeth pulled in the future or need a different tooth pulled, remember to try some warm salt water rinses.
2. Can Help with Oral Thrush
If you ever experience an oral thrush breakout, which is a condition where the fungus Candida, a normal organism in your mouth, overgrows and causes white-colored lesions inside your mouth, the Mayo Clinic recommends rinsing with warm salt water.
3. Helps Relieve and Heal Canker Sores
Warm salt water rinses are the most popular home remedy for canker sores. Salt water can help remove some bacteria, decrease inflammation, and relieve some of the pain of not-so-fun canker sores. If you get canker sores frequently, you might already be accustomed to salt water rinses and if you’re not, you’re welcome.
4. Soothes a Sore Throat
A home remedy as old as time. I wonder if the cavemen did it. A warm salt water rinse always helps improve your throat amid a sickness with the dreadful symptom of a sore throat.
5. Helps Fight Bad Breath
Did you run out of mouthwash just before an important event where you will talk with people all night? No worries, you can still achieve fresh breath with a salt water rinse. It will tackle those pesky bacteria that cause bad breath.
How to Do a Salt Water Rinse
A salt water rinse is straightforward. Just add ½ a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water. It doesn’t have to be exact, but that is a good rule of thumb if you have no idea how much to put in. It’s that easy. Any type of salt will get the job done. Then, swish the salt water rinse in your mouth for 15-20 seconds and spit it out. Do not swallow it.
The Dangers of Enamel Abrasion
Think about the naturally abrasive nature of salt. Sure, it is great for cleaning and even whitening, but salt grains may be too good at cleaning. The little grains are essentially crystals, and they scrape away surface stains and tartar. But how do you prevent them from scraping off more? The little crystals can be too harsh for your teeth when rubbed right against them.
Think about the role of salt in the winter. We use it to dissolve snow. That is what salt can do to your teeth—dissolve the enamel. Removing the top surface of your teeth can expose the underlying dentin. Say goodbye to enjoying ice cream and any other cold or hot drinks because, without the top layer of your teeth, you will forever have sensitive teeth.
The Importance of Fluoride
Another reason why dentists won’t recommend salt toothpaste anytime soon is because it might lack fluoride, which is an essential mineral for your teeth. Fluoride is a natural mineral in the earth’s soil, water, and air. Most states are fortunate enough to have fluoride added to their public water, but even then, your teeth still need more fluoride. If you use a toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride, then you may not be getting enough of it. Ditch the salt toothpaste. Always have fluoride toothpaste in your home.
When it comes to being on top of the latest and greatest dental trends, the best of both worlds would be to start doing warm salt water rinses daily or weekly and use a fluoride toothpaste from a well-known brand. Salt can be great for oral health when used properly, but it’s not enough.
As your Kaysville family dentist, we’re here to educate you, warn you about unadvisable dental trends, and offer the best care possible. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.