Does Salt water kill bacteria? How does salt water kill bacteria present in our mouth and throat? To answer these questions, we first have to learn about Bacteria.
Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that can be found virtually everywhere on Earth. Oral and throat bacteria are the main components of the oral microbiota. Our mouth is home to about 700 species of microbes, some bacteria like Streptococcus, Prevotella, Staphylococcus, and Granulicatella are among the predominant microorganisms present in the oral cavity. These bacterial cells grow and live in our oral cavity some of which cause many respiratory and dental problems. Today, there are many medicated products available in the market for the prevention and treatment of the health problems associated with Bacteria as they are present in billions in our mouths.
But does salt water kill bacteria? Let’s find out one of the most famous recipes made simply with water and salt, used around the world for eliminating these microbes for oral hygiene.
Salt water has long been used as a remedy to help treat many oral infections like canker sores, allergies, sore throats, mouth sores, and toothaches because of its wide range of disinfectant properties.
Salt water is a natural disinfectant that has many properties including antibacterial properties. This means it can kill harmful bacteria, and reduce bacterial growth. It’s also good for the oral pH balance and respiratory health and helps maintain oral health and hygiene.
This age-old traditional remedy used worldwide involves using saltwater rinses for sore throat in winter and cold and flu season. Using it to help relieve mouth pain can be an effective alternative to chemically made medicated mouthwashes for dental health.
1. Salt Concentrations and How to Make the Saltwater Solution?
Salt rinses are nothing but a solution of warm water and common salt or table salt. Table salt is a mineral whose chemical name is Sodium Chloride. Sodium Chloride is an ionic compound with the chemical formula NaCl.
To make salt water rinses, add salt about half a teaspoon to 250mL of warm water and mix it until combined. for saltwater gargles, take a comfortable amount of the solution in your mouth, gargle at the back of your throat, rinse around the gums and teeth for a few seconds, and then spit out the solution. This saltwater solution can be used for gargling effectively to kill bacteria and as an effective mouth cleaner after meals.
1.1. Side Effects
For younger children, gargling salt water can be difficult sometimes. It is advised to consult a paediatrician before letting younger children gargle and for the correct concentration of salt in saltwater rinses.
Besides, too much salt water can cause skin irritations around the back of the throat. This irritation can be caused by osmosis of the cells present in our mouth and throat and can cause further pain and discomfort. Therefore, salt concentration and the ratio of salt to water ratio are crucial when preparing saltwater rinses.
2. Does Salt Water Kill Bacteria?
2.1 How Does Salt Water Kill Bacteria?
Through some studies, it has been found that gargling with salt water twice daily can significantly help in reducing bacteria present in the mouth. Though salt is known to kill only some types of bacteria and not every one of them, salt concentration plays a vital role in reducing bacterial cells. The salt pulls out all the water present inside the bacterial cell leaving only the bacterial proteins by the process known as Osmosis, to balance out the concentration of salt on either side of the cell membrane. This collapses the cell on itself and results in killing bacteria.
The other types of bacterial cells that can’t be killed by salt water are the Halotolerant Bacteria which are resistant and can tolerate salt. These bacteria can grow and adapt to high salt concentrations.
Many people use salt water to freshen their breath and clean the areas of their mouths where toothbrushes can not reach. Instead of purchasing a medicated mouthwash from a drugstore or any supermarket, it is better to use a remedy like salt water which is cheap and natural. Salt water beats modern medicine which comes with many side effects, whereas gargling with salt water has no such side effects.
2.2. What Do Experts Say About Salt Water?
Specialists recommend putting a quarter teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water as the water has to be hypertonic, meaning salt concentration has to be enough to make it taste saltier. Warm water causes blood pressure to rise in the throat region and increases blood flow. This sets our immune system into action and can also cause the healing process to be faster. An alternative to salt water can be made by adding 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the saltwater solution.
If someone has undergone any dental procedures such as tooth extraction, it makes the mouth more prone to infections. Solutions of saltwater are suggested by dental practitioners as a safety measure to keep oral and dental hygiene in optimal condition. Saltwater helps improve the health of teeth and gums and is beneficial in the reduction of dental plaque, cavities, and gum diseases like gingivitis, or swollen gums.
Saltwater gargles are generally safe for both children and adults and can be done twice or thrice a day as per the need. There are typically no side effects so anyone can gargle efficiently without any worries.
However, people with high blood pressure should skip the saltwater gargles. When we gargle, there is a chance of swallowing salt water, accidentally, and high sodium intake is known to increase the overall pressure of blood in our arteries if consumed.
3. Uses of Salt Water Rinse
Does salt water kill bacteria and is it a valuable remedy for oral health and hygiene? Let’s have a look at some of these health problems where it can be helpful.
3.1. Respiratory Tract Infections
Typical upper respiratory infections include the common cold and flu, and others like infection of the sinus. Studies show gargling effectively can help minimize the symptoms and alleviate pain and it’s beneficial in preventing upper respiratory tract infections.
3.2. How Does Salt Water Kill Bacteria Present in Our Tooth and Gums and the Dental Procedures
People who have undergone dental procedures, like tooth extractions, or have dental issues like gum infection are advised to gargle effectively by dentists 2-3 times a day to fight infection and alleviate pain and swelling. Regular salt rinsing prevents the buildup of plaque and tartar. Harmful bacteria prefer an acidic environment and salt helps neutralize this condition and kill bacteria which in turn prevents tooth decay by mouth bacteria.
3.3. Sore Throat
Saltwater rinses are an effective way to get relief from discomfort and throat pain. Saltwater rinses can help keep the mouth clean, prevent further infections, and help with soreness.
3.4. Canker Sores
Salt water solution soothes pain in case of Canker sores which are painful ulcers that develop in the mouth. Saltwater promotes healing treats wounds by wound repair and prevents the growth of bacteria.
Some allergies cause a nasal passage blockage and swelling of the throat which causes extreme discomfort. Gargling with salt water can ease the nasal passage and improve breathing. Warm water molecules along with salt reduce swelling and kill bacteria present in the upper respiratory tract.
Saltwater gargles can help keep the mouth clean. It may alleviate many discomforting conditions arising from cold and flu, mouth sores or ulcers, and dental procedures. The rinses are quick and easy to make and are economically cheaper than medicated products. Anyone can easily try out this remedy and can notice benefits with 24 hours of gargling. Younger children and people with high blood pressure should consult the practitioners before trying out this remedy.