This article first appeared in the March 2015 issue of Health No.1 (健康No.1). For the benefit of those who missed the article, or who cannot access the publication in Chinese, we have summarized the content of the article below.
Q: I have mouth sores frequently. Having heard of various home remedies such as applying salt, aloe vera or baking soda on the ulcers, may I know which is the most effective method?
A: It has been thought by many that the application of salt on an ulcer would help to disinfect the wound and keep it clean from bacteria that cause ulcers. Nonetheless, there has not been any concrete medical evidence that proves salt can effectively treat ulcers.
The lack of vitamin C, vitamin B12, iron, zinc and other nutrients in one’s body impedes the recovery of wounds and this contributes to the formation of ulcers.
Aloe vera contains a variety of nutrients and has been said to be helpful for ulcers. However, there have been a limited number of medical experiments that support this claim.
Baking soda is especially helpful in treating mouth ulcers that are caused by acidic food or drinks. An alkaline solution made from mixing baking soda with water would neutralise the acid levels in the mouth, reduce inflammation and allow the ulcers to heal faster.
For ulcers that are mild and happen occasionally, there is no harm in trying the home remedies stated above. However, if your ulcers last longer than two weeks, do not show any signs of improvement and keep recurring, then it is important to arrange for a professional check up with a dentist. Ulcers that take a long time to heal may be related to other serious diseases, such as oral cancer.
When required, dentists can prescribe medication that helps to relieve the pain. As prevention is better than cure, remember to have a balanced diet in order to prevent the growth of ulcers.