Oral hygiene: Why using salt is effective for brushing your teeth

To make saltwater, add half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and stir.

To make saltwater, add half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and stir.

Photo credit: Fotosearch

What you need to know:

  • Salt can help to remove stains from teeth and make them whiter.
  • Gurgling salt water is a common way to clean the mouth and throat.
  • Modern oral products have several ingredients, such as fluoride, that promote the health of your mouth.



Salt has been used for centuries as a natural way to clean teeth and improve oral hygiene. It is a powerful antibacterial agent, and it can help remove plaque and bacteria from teeth and gums. However, in the age of commercial toothpaste, and oral hygiene products, the use of salt has taken a backseat.

Are there benefits of using salt to brush teeth, or could you be damaging your gums?

Why is salt effective for brushing teeth?

Due to the size, shape, and nature of its granules, salt is a strong abrasive. It is even used to clean surfaces that require being scoured. This is the mechanical property that makes salt good for brushing teeth. It can remove small and medium-sized food particles that cling on and between teeth.

Secondly, salt is effective for brushing teeth because it is a natural antibacterial agent. It can kill and remove plaque and bacteria from the teeth and gums. In addition, it neutralises the acid that has already been produced by the bacteria thus preventing the formation of cavities. Also, harmful oral bacteria prefer an acidic environment. neutralising the acid makes the mouth unsuitable for such bacteria.

Salt as a teeth whitener

Salt can help to remove stains from teeth and make them whiter. This is because salt is a natural bleaching agent. This occurs simultaneously with the act of removing plaques and bacteria from the teeth and gums.

Dentists, however, advise that using salt for bleaching teeth may not be as effective as the commercial options. It is best for removing temporary stains such as coffee stains, but if the teeth are heavily stained, the effectiveness is greatly reduced.

Also, in an effort to remove the plaque and stains, you may be tempted to brush more aggressively. Unfortunately, being abrasive, salt may damage your gum in the process. As with other home remedies for teeth whitening, use salt in moderation and carefully.

Gurgling with saltwater

Gurgling salt water is a common way to clean the mouth and throat. The salt water helps to remove mucus, bacteria, and other debris from the throat and oral cavity. It can also help to soothe a sore throat.

To make saltwater, add half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and stir until the salt has dissolved. Gargle with the saltwater for 30 seconds to a minute then spit it out. You can do this procedure two to three times a day, or as needed.

Make sure you use warm water as hot water may burn your throat. If you have never gargled with saltwater before, start by using less salt and gradually increase the amount.

Saltwater as an oral rinse

Saltwater is also used during dental operations to clean the mouth as the dentist works. It can be used to treat gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.

Water for rinsing the mouth is prepared similar to water for gurgling. But instead of gurgling, swirl the water in the mouth for around 30 seconds, spit and repeat a couple of times. You could still gurgle to flash out the bacteria in the throat.

Salt is effective, but it's not a substitute for oral care products

Salt is effective at cleaning teeth, the gums, and maintaining general oral cleanliness. But it does just an okay job. If your teeth are seriously stained, salt may reduce the intensity of the stains but will not give you the sparkling teeth you need. Also, modern oral products have several ingredients, such as fluoride, that promote the health of your mouth. You will not get these additional benefits from salt. However, if you still fancy using salt, some toothpaste manufacturers include salt in their toothpaste. You can opt for such varieties.

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