Affordability in health care is a key watchword. What if there is a secret cheap, readily available ingredient that can stop the world’s most prevalent disease in its tracks. The press and social media should shout it from the rooftops if they knew of it. And lo and behold, it is right under our noses and in almost every evening meal that we enjoy. And the secret is… common everyday salt! (With a little extra ingredient, we shall reveal later.)
What is the magic in salt? It’s a compound of sodium and chlorine that in its natural state is Sodium Chloride or NaCl. A simple mouth rinse with a solution of salt and water is an age-old remedy known to promote gum health, reduce swelling and recover from mouth trauma or ulcers. This was known in China as early as 2700 BC.
Modern studies, have shown that wound healing is accelerated when a salt water rinse is used in vivo. The recommended concentration was one teaspoon full (5 g) of NaCl in a cup of water (250 ml) to use as oral rinse.
Salt water can also be used as an adjunct to routine brushing and flossing for prevention of oral diseases. Another study showed the growth of the bacterial plaque that causes tooth decay can be reduced with a simple mouth rinse. The study showed that salt water rinse was almost as effective against oral bacteria as was a prescription mouth rinse (chlorhexidine) in reducing amounts of plaque.
Another study on plaque in 2010 in which 45 children gargled twice daily for 21 days with salt water and alum showed that salt water was very effective against oral bacteria, and the addition of alum increased effectiveness over salt alone.
The American Dental Association and The American Cancer Society also recommend a soothing antibacterial mouth rinse that combines salt water with another commonly available ingredient; baking soda!
The recipe combines the following to make a saltwater and baking soda gargle:
1 qt water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
The common ingredients of water, salt and baking soda are readily available and have important healing and antibacterial properties to prevent a contagious widespread disease caused by oral bacteria. The next time you pass the salt shaker, remember that in your hand is a remarkable medication as well as a flavor enhancer.