I have always recommended warm salt water rinses after clients have had a particularly difficult cleaning appointment to soothe the tissues and promote healing. Recently however, a number of my clients decided to start salt water rinsing daily and the results have been phenomenal. Given that this was the only behavioral change that we could find to explain the results, I decided I had better do a little more research into salt and its healing properties.
For thousands of years, people have used salt and water to heal the body. Egyptians recorded its effectiveness on wounds. Hippocrates, The Father of Medicine made use of remedies containing salt after noticing the therapeutic qualities of seawater on the injured hands of fishermen. Roman doctors dispensed drinks and ointments made with salt and during the Renaissance period doctors recommended salt baths for skin diseases and itching.
It would appear that salt water rinses are good because they alkalinize the mouth (opposite of acidify, which is what the bacteria create) and the alkalinity helps decrease the bacteria count because they like an acid environment. Additionally, salt water is astringent and speeds wound healing through reducing inflammation and contracting the tissues.
In a British Dental Journal Study published in 2003, it was determined that the heat of the solution produces a therapeutic increase in blood flow to the affected area that promotes wound healing and that the isotonic (balanced inside and outside the cell) environment created prevents destruction of the cells migrating into the area that are trying to repair the wound.
While most of us typically would grab the table salt, now knowing what I know about the differences in salt, I would advise clients to choose anything but as the natural chemical structure has been altered through processing and the many additional benefits of pure salt have been lost.
Once again, some of the old tried and true remedies are still around for good reason.
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Until next time,