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Salt Water rinses after Extraction



Well-known member
Jan 26, 2010
Milton Keynes, UK
Hi all,

I don't often post these days unless I think I can add something, but just occasionally I have a question of my own so here goes !

Two or three days ago I visited my dentist because I was getting pain in an old root which was originally left in my jaw to support the bone structure under my bottom denture. My dentist though it best to extract it, and he and I were both happy to do it on the spot so it is now gone. I've just finished my second day (of five) of rinsing my mouth with salt water four times a day, as this practice always recommends after an extraction. It occurs to me that, although I have always done it after an extraction, I have never come across a good, scientific explanation of what exactly the salt water rinses are intended to achieve. So, can anyone here explain for me why we are always advised to do this ? It won't change anything I'm doing, but I really would like to understand why I am doing it !


Hi John,

I've often wondered myself if the saltwater recommendation is just to make patients feel more involved with the healing process... especially considering that in many other European countries, there's no such recommendation.

However, some studies appear to show beneficial effects. For example, a 2014 randomised controlled trial found that salt water rinses reduce the risk of dry socket (also known as "alveolar osteitis"). The problem with that trial is that the control group didn't rinse with anything (as far as I can make out?), so we don't really know if it was just the water that had a beneficial effect or the fact that it had salt in it.

I could move this into the "Ask a Dentist" section - maybe one of our dentists might know more?
I don’t know any research about this topic. In my belief, the salt topic might have a superficial effect on the outer surface of the wound and that might help a bit superficial effect but nothing more.
Salt water theoretically should lessen swelling (osmosis) and disturb bacteria (depends on the salt concentration).
There's a really good post here by @Jodie Nelson which mentions salt water and its ability to kill bacteria:

Thank you all for your kind replies, I understand now ! I'm done with my rinses, it's been seven days. I think I MAY have had a bit of dry socket on days 6 & 7, but it all looks to be healing nicely and I'm needing far less pain relief than a week ago so I'm not worried. Now, if it would just calm down enough that I could start wearing my bottom denture again and be able to eat normally......