How Much Salt in Water for Oral Rinsing After Oral or Dental Surgery?

Oral rinsing with salt water is a simple and effective way to prevent inflammation or infection after oral surgical procedures. But just how much salt do you need? Lets first look at what salt does and why we recommend it.

The chief reason for oral rinsing is to wash away the plaque and food debris from the surgical sites. While this can be achieved quite effectively with regular tap water, adding salt simply makes it a more balanced and physiologic which is kinder and less dehydrating to the healing tissues. Alcohol-based mouth rinses, while effective in debridement of the sites, cause tissue dehydration and hence not recommended.
While salt can potentially kill bacteria if used in high concentrations, more is not necessarily better- not to mention its burning or stinging feeling or excessive salty taste.

Here are the recommendations on the amount of salt in water for effective oral rinsing following oral surgical procedures:

  • Use 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 1 cup of room temperature water

  • A typical water bottle holds about 3 cups of water, so add 1.5 teaspoons of salt for the same concentration.
  • Or you can also make a gallon (about 16 cups) of salt water by adding 8 teaspoons (about 2.5 tablespoons) of salt.

Oral rinsing should be done every 1-2 hours for 10-14 days after oral surgery. Make sure to ask your surgeon or dentist for appropriate length of time.

Dr. H. Ryan Kazemi is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Bethesda, MD