If you're dedicated to living a natural lifestyle, you might look for ways to replace typical household items with ingredients you already keep in your cupboard. Baking soda can make a great household cleaner and coconut oil might work well as hair conditioner, but it's not a great idea to replace your toothpaste with salt. It's a common method often touted as a cheaper alternative to toothpaste, but salt won't offer the same oral health benefits.
Before you brush teeth with salt, consider the following three factors to understand why you probably shouldn't.
1. Lack of Fluoride
Toothpaste doesn't just keep your breath minty fresh. It offers many oral health benefits, thanks to the active ingredient of fluoride. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), fluoride protects your teeth by removing harmful plaque and strengthening tooth enamel so that each brushing session fortifies and keeps your mouth healthy. When you swap your toothpaste for salt, you're missing out on these important benefits. That's why your oral health routine should always contain a toothpaste that has been verified and accepted by the ADA. Colgate Total Daily Repair toothpaste, for example, contains fluoride, repairs early teeth and gum damage, and strengthens teeth by remineralizing weakened enamel.
2. Mouth Abrasions
The tissue in your mouth – including your gums – is delicate and can be prone to abrasions. The small, grainy nature of salt is usually promoted as a tooth cleaner because it acts as an exfoliator. Salt may be able to scrub away food particles on your teeth, but it can also cause painful cuts on your gums and the soft tissue on the inside of your mouth.
3. Better as a Rinse
If you do want to incorporate salt into your oral care routine, it's best left as a rinsing agent. Don't brush teeth with salt. Instead, rinse your mouth when you're suffering from mouth sores like cankers, a sore throat, or abrasions. Mix half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and swish around your mouth for about 30 seconds. Salt rinses alleviate mouth pain, because they remove bacteria for temporary relief.
As far as cleaning and caring for your teeth goes, there are many professional products that work better than salt. Salt might be a natural ingredient found on your pantry shelf, but it doesn't offer the array of benefits that an ADA-accepted, fluoride-based toothpaste does. In the end, it's best to leave your salt on the dinner table and turn to the toothpaste on your bathroom sink.