Make Your Own Salt Water Mouth Rinse

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An oral saline solution, or salt water mouth rinse, is used to cleanse and relieve pain associated with canker soresafter oral surgery, and for general mouth pain.

How to Make Salt Water Mouth Rinse
Verywell / Emily Roberts

Salt Water vs. Mouthwash

Traditional mouthwashes, many of which have alcohol in them, can irritate swollen mucous membranes in the mouth. That's a big reason why dentists suggest using saline solution, also called salt water mouth rinse, to relieve the pain and swelling that comes after a deep cleaning or other dental procedures like a tooth extraction.

Salt water rinses have been proven to:

  • Soothe mouth sores or bleeding gums
  • Heal a sore throat
  • Freshen breath
  • Loosen and remove food

How to Make Salt Water Mouth Rinse

You can easily make a good saline solution at home since it only requires two to three ingredients that almost everyone has in their kitchen. A fresh batch should be made every time you use this rinse.


You'll need:

  • 8 ounces warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (optional)


Salt water mouth rinse is easy to make and takes only about 10 minutes to prepare: 

  1. Start by bringing 8 ounces of warm water to a rolling boil, about 10 minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat.
  3. Let water stand until it's cool enough to rinse with but still warm (this will better allow the salt an optional baking soda to dissolve in the next steps).
  4. When cooled accordingly, place the salt in the water while gently stirring until the salt has been completely dissolved.
  5. As an option, dissolve the 2 teaspoons baking soda in the water along with the salt.
  6. Use the saline solution as directed and discard any leftover solution.

Make the solution fresh for each use.

How to Use

Unless otherwise directed by your dentist or physician, swish the solution around in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit the solution out. Don't swallow it. Nothing will happen to you if you do swallow it, but it's not necessary.

Salt water mouth rinse can be used up to four times a day for treatment for up to two weeks with no adverse effects. However, over time an oral saline solution may adversely affect the tooth enamel, causing decay.

For Toothache

Salt water is also a good toothache aid. Rinsing with warm salt water two to three times a day may help to relieve a toothache because salt water works as an antiseptic. It gently removes bacteria from the infected area.

Oral Baking Soda Paste

If you want to target a specific sore in your mouth, such as a canker sore, it's easy to create a paste. Start by mixing baking soda and small drops of water gradually until the paste is a thick consistency, close to the consistency of toothpaste. Cover the canker sores with the paste. Repeat as often as necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is saline?

    Saline is a mixture of water and sodium chloride (salt).

  • What are the benefits of using a saline solution?

    Saline solution has many uses, including to soothe mouth sores and bleeding gums, heal a sore throat, loosen and remove food stuck in the mouth, freshen breath, and relieve a toothache.

  • Can salt water rinse heal a gum infection?

    Salt water rinse can remove some bacteria from the area of infection and may help relieve pain, but it does not cure the gum infection. You should speak with your dentist or healthcare provider who can provide treatment.

  • Should I use a salt water rinse before or after brushing my teeth?

    Use a salt water rinse before brushing your teeth. The rinse shouldn't be used after brushing your teeth since it can interfere with the protective fluoride in toothpaste.

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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cedars-Sinai StaffCedars-Sinai Staff. Everything you ever wanted to know about canker sores. Cedars-Sinai Blog. Published February 8, 2019.

  2. National Health Service (NHS). How to keep your teeth clean. Last reviewed August 29, 2018.