Rinsing/gargling with warm salt water?

As I mentioned in another thread, I have an abscessed tooth, (which I’m DEFINITELY taking care of, never fear), but one thing puzzles me-what’s the deal with rinsing with warm salt water? What is it about the salt that helps?

My dad used it too when he got his dentures earlier this year, and when I had my wisdom teeth out, I was told to use it. I’ve also been told that gargling with warm salt water helps a sore throat.

What gives?

A mild antispectic? I don’t know. All I know is that I always gargle with salt water whenever I have sore throat and I find it very effective.

I’d imagine it might have to do with the fact that your blood is salty. The salt water might match the salt content of your blood and thus keep fluids from entering or leaving cells at the site of the wound, which could damage the cells. Just my guess. I’ve wondered about it myself.

Water follows salt, so gargling with salt water helps draw some of the swelling out and relieves edema.

Salt water is hypotonic, and kills bacteria by drawing water out of them through osmosis.

When I have surgery (waiting on number 28 or 29, I’ve lost count), usually abdominal with decnetly sized incisions, I often bathe afterwards in salty water (fill up the bath and then dump in a large quantity of table salt). Been doing it since I was a baby on the recomendation of my paediatric surgeon (I’m 30 now). It definitely reduces the itchiness of the scar and seems to reduce the swelling (in comparison to showers or non-salt baths). Ofcourse, none of this is empirical evidence, but it’s been my experience.

IANAD, but in my understanding, the more important part of the classic salt water gargle is the warm, which increases blood flow to the gums and throat. And, yes, warm tea, coffee or broth (swallowed) has a similar if not better effect. At least that’s what I’ve been told by several doctors and nurses.

I swore by rinsing with warm/hot salt water whenever I got my braces tightened. I don’t know why it worked, but it worked.

If this were true then pure water would work even better.

Actually, no. Water tends to move to the region of lower concentration (roughly speaking). If you dissolve salt in water, you’re effectively reducing the concentration of water, which means water would tend to move out of the cells (high concentration) into the salt solution (low concentration). If you had pure water, it’s more likely that water would move *into *the cells rather than out.

(From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmosis)

High solvent potential is low water potential, so this is the same thing looked at in reverse.

Sorry, you are correct. I knew that, but I didn’t read Fear Itself’s post properly and his/her use of “hypotonic” distracted me - in the situation you are describing, the salt water would have to be hypertonic compared to the bacterial cytoplasm.

That’ll teach me to reply without reading posts properly.

I have been using salt water for mouth and throat tenderness all my life, probably learned it from my Mother. I really never knew why it worked, but I do know it’s very effective. It can bring relief in minutes.
I Googled it, because of this thread and found that it is indeed an anti-inflammatory. One article recommended a teaspoon of salt in a pint of warm water, I’ve always used a teaspoon in about a cup w/ success, but they say that too strong a solution can cause problems.
Some of the cites also suggested an anti-bacterial quality. Perhaps that’s where “rubbing salt into the wound” originated?

We recommend this all the time, but I don’t have any new science to add to the above. I’ve always assumed a HYPERtonic antibacterail effect and probably cleaning some irritating exudate off the tissue

Szlater! Don’t mean to pry, don’t answer if you don’t want to, but what gives!!!

Pardon a relative newbie if you’ve explained before - but good Og!

Personal anecdote here----

I have mostly been without health insurance ===forget about paying a doctor or a dentist ======for about 15 years.

I have severe periodontal disease. Can’t eat anything sticky at all. Gets down in some god forsaken region within my teeth and gums and flat out does not come out. --------leading to infection and my face blowing up like a balloon. Really dreadful looking it is.

Ordinary solution is to visit the dentist, get a prescription for antibiotics for a couple weeks and problem solved.

But there was one time when I could not afford a dentist, or paying for an antibiotic. And so---------

I tried the old salt treatment. Hot as you could stand it water with saturated salt within. A couple times a day.

Worked fine. Ballooned up face returned to normal within days.

Worked just as well as the expensive dentist and the expensive antilbiotics for 2 weeks (which by the way tends to give me the shits for 2 weeks)