Many people have chosen to take the more organic route to beauty, health, and hygiene. This means opting out of factory-made products in favor of raw and organic materials. Some of these examples include aloe vera gel for minor burns, sugar scrubs for those who want to exfoliate after a long day of wearing makeup, and apple cider for pimples.
However, some of these organic remedies may sound a bit far-fetched or dangerous. For example, before ChapStick or lip balm was made, did you know that back in 1829, a women’s rights activist claimed in her book that applying earwax to your lips was a good remedy for chapped lips?
One such example that exists today is the claim that brushing your teeth with salt can have benefits, including making your teeth whiter. Given that commercial teeth whitening products can sell for $8 or more in supermarkets and around $650 for professional whitening from your dentist, it’s surprising that something as simple as table salt can be an organic solution to yellowing teeth.
But just how legitimate is this claim? We’re here to explain whether brushing your teeth with salt is a good or bad thing.
Salt as an Abrasive
Salt has many uses in cooking and cleaning. Yup, that’s right – salt does more than just heighten the flavor of your food. Salt’s composition is little crystals with sharp edges. This means that it has abrasive properties. While it may not be strong enough to scrape off harder substances, it can scrape away some stains, food bits, and weaker residue.
The argument for using salt instead of toothpaste is that salt is the basic abrasive form of what we need from toothpaste. Toothpaste has existed in different forms since the Ancient Egyptian period (it was a paste of powdered rock and vinegar), but the way toothpaste works has always been generally the same: an abrasive that helps scrubs away stains and plaque. Modern toothpaste now also includes foam, texture, and a traditionally minty taste, but if you look at the evolution of toothpaste, the most important part is the abrasive.
This is where salt comes in. Toothpaste has abrasives, yes, but a special kind. After all, there’s a reason why toothpaste manufacturers do not use certain kind of abrasives like what sandpaper and sanding wheels are made out of. Dental abrasives must be strong enough to remove plaque but gentle enough not to damage enamel and expose your dentins. Many believe that salt has just the right about of strength to fit this bill.
Technically, Salt Can Remove Plaque
If you look at it at a technical sense, then yes, these bloggers are correct. Salt is abrasive enough to remove plaque and food bits that get stuck in your mouth. Salt can also absorb liquids in between your teeth, which can prevent bacteria that can cause bad breath and infections from thriving in hard to reach places. Some also claim that using salt has slowly whitened their teeth.
To brush your teeth with salt, simply wet your toothbrush and dip it in a container of salt. You can also try sprinkling salt over your toothpaste for an added abrasive. Be sure to rinse your mouth with water to get rid of all the salt.
So, according to bloggers, the benefits of brushing your teeth with salt include antibacterial benefits, whiter teeth, and a healthier mouth. While it may seem like a good idea, here’s why some dentists believe you shouldn’t do it.
Brushing Teeth with Sea Salt, Table Salt, Kosher Salt, Etc.
Bloggers say that there’s really no difference to what kind of salt you use. The general composition of salt shouldn’t matter. However, some salt products are fortified with iodine and use caking agents to prevent salt from clumping. This can affect how soft or hard salt can be.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Brushing Your Teeth with Salt
According to Dr. Matt Messina, a dentist and professor at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry, there’s no scientific evidence to back up the claim that salt has whitening effects. In fact, there’s actually more reasons why you SHOULDN’T be rubbing salt to your teeth.
While it’s true that salt is abrasive enough to remove plaque, it’s also abrasive enough to slowly scrape away the enamel of your teeth. Some people claim that salt whitens, but what they might actually be seeing is the salt slowly erode away the enamel. Eventually, however, there will come a point that there will be very little enamel to scrape off. During this time, your teeth will take on a yellowish hue. This is the dentin, which is basically the yellow bony tissue underneath the enamel. Exposing the dentin leaves it vulnerable to bacteria, which can cause cavities if not properly maintained.
Because salt absorbs water, it can lead to other oral problems as well. It can dry out the mucous membranes responsible for keeping your mouth well-lubricated, which can cause you to have a dry mouth. This can lead to gums receding, revealing the cementum of the teeth. This makes it more vulnerable to gum disease, bacteria, and decay.
Aside from your dental health, there’s also the risk of your other systems. Consuming salt in moderate amounts is OK, but too much salt in your body can lead to various negative effects. Salt contains sodium, and too much of it can affect your blood pressure. This can also lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. This is because a higher blood pressure means that your cardiovascular system is working twice as hard as it normally should to get blood and oxygen to the other parts of your body.
In short, when it comes to brushing your teeth, salt in any kind may not be a good idea in the long run. It’s abrasiveness isn’t suitable for teeth. You’re much better off with everyday toothpaste, even if it does contain some inorganic ingredients.
Salt as a Legitimate Oral Solution
Salt, however, is a legitimate organic solution for sore throat. This is because its water absorption and antibacterial properties can soothe scratchy throats by pulling the mucus out of inflamed throat tissue. Mix half a teaspoon of salt with one cup of water until it dissolves. Gargle for several seconds and spit. Repeat several times a day.
As a toothpaste, you’re better off using regular toothpaste. While toothpaste in the past didn’t have the ingredients modern toothpaste does today, there’s a good reason for that, so it’s best to follow your dentist and buy toothpaste instead. However, while brushing your teeth with salt isn’t a good idea, it’s still a viable tool for handling sore throat.