The Real Benefit of Salt Water Rinsing After Oral Surgery

Frequent mouth rinses with salt water after oral surgery promotes healing and helps to prevent infections. At our office, we first provide our patients with verbal and written instructions right after their oral surgery and review the importance of oral rinsing with salt water. Then we call them on the evening of surgery and review it again. Then our assistant calls them two days after surgery and goes over it once more. We also give them a large postcard with reminders about rinsing, not only once, but again on their follow up appointment. That’s how important it is.

Salt can potentially kill bacteria and prevent infection but adding more is not necessarily better. In fact, the main purpose of salt is to make the water more physiologic or “tissue friendly” for rinsing. Simply add a tablespoon of salt to a gallon of water, shake, and use it for your rinsing needs. The real benefit from rinsing with salt water is the washing away of plaque and food debris from the tooth extraction or dental implant surgery site. For that matter, you can use plain tap water, especially if you are at school or work and don’t have salt-water on hand. It’s best to avoid rinsing with alcohol-based mouth rinses during the first week after surgery because of irritation to the healing tissues.

So remember to rinse often with salt water or just water. You will have less post surgical pain, faster healing, and less chances of developing a mouth infection.