I have heard this question often from my patients: What is better to gargle with mouth wash or warm salt water?
So let’s begin this discussion:
First of all, let’s understand how saltwater gargling is helpful in maintaining good oral health.
Dental plaque(Biofilm loaded with bacteria) in presence of sugary food and drinks creates an acidic condition that is harmful to dental health. Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl). It helps to create an alkaline condition. This is how saltwater gargling helps by maintaining pH level in the mouth and thus weakening/inhibiting bacterial growth and preventing oral disease.
Now let’s discuss mouthwashes:
There are many varieties of mouthwashes are available in the market but we can categories them mainly into two types:
Therapeutic and Cosmetic.
1) Therapeutic mouthwashes have bacteria-killing properties and usually, your dentist recommends this in certain oral health conditions to prevent gum disease and dental caries. Sometimes it requires a dental prescription.
2)Cosmetic mouthwashes temporarily help to reduce bad breath but have minimum antibacterial properties, so they are not helpful in carries or gum disease control in Comparison to therapeutic mouthwashes.
I don’t recommend mouthwash for Children (on average 6 yrs and younger), to avoid intoxication and nauseatic effect because of alcohol contents in some mouthwash. So my humble request to all parents is to always check the label and age recommendation before any use for their children.
Additionally, if you have ulcers, sores, or burns inside of your mouth then stay away from rinsing with alcohol-based mouthwashes to avoid the burning effect from the alcohol. Under these circumstances, saltwater gargling is much more advisable.
As long as you are brushing twice a day and flossing at least once, you can use either gargle with salt water or mouthwash to control the excess of bacteria to prevent caries and gum diseases and achieve good oral health benefits from these oral health remedies.