Is the old-age myth true? Read on to find out.
It all began with Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician referred to as the father of Western medicine. He recommended salt remedies after observing that seawater had therapeutic effects on the injured hands of fishermen.
Dr Jerry Lim, clinical director of Orchard Scotts Dental, confirms that similar treatments are still used today. In fact, patients are told to rinse their mouths with salt water after surgical procedures like tooth implants, wisdom tooth extractions or gum disease surgical therapy.
Open wounds like oral ulcers are often raw and easily infected with bacteria in the mouth. A salt water rinse eases pain from canker sores by gently reducing the alkalinity (and subsequently bacteria) in the mouth, and increasing the moisture level for salivary defence cells to speed up healing, explains Dr Lim.
Rubbing salt into ulcers, however, isn’t recommended as this stimulates pain in nerve endings and causes sharp discomfort. The abrasion from coarse salt crystals can also make matters worse.
If you’re wondering why your homemade remedy (mix one teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds) doesn’t work, swop processed or bleached table salt for sea salt. According to Dr Lim, sea salt also contains other natural minerals which may be beneficial.
Alternatively, laser therapy, using light energy to sterilise the ulcer and stimulate healing, can help an ulcer mend in half the time it usually takes.
Verdict: TRUE. Just don’t rub salt into the wound.
This article first appeared on SHAPE, October 2017.
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