Mouth ulcers are sores or open lesions in the mouth caused by a variety of conditions including cancer, infections, immune system problems and damage or abrasions related to braces or dentures, self-inflicted bites or other problems. You might experience pain and discomfort due to a mouth ulcer. If you have one, a diet that focuses on avoiding irritants and keeping the mouth clean helps to promote healing.
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Common irritants of mouth ulcers include hot, spicy, salty, acidic and abrasive foods and beverages. A good rule of thumb is that if a food or drink causes discomfort, it should be avoided until the mouth ulcer heals. Since oral hygiene also plays a role in mouth ulcer healing, it also helps to brush or at least rinse with antiseptic mouthwash after every meal or snack. MedlinePlus, notes that good oral hygiene may prevent some mouth ulcers from developing in the first place.
Foods to Enjoy
Cold foods and beverages can soothe painful mouth ulcers. Cooking foods—especially fruits and vegetables—reduces their abrasive qualities. Fresh or frozen foods are good choices because they contain less acid than canned food and less salt than processed foods. Grain dishes and plain, unseasoned meat also help because both meat and grains contain little acid. Sipping ice water, iced tea or cold milk during meals washes away debris and irritants from other foods.
Foods to Limit
Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients that support the immune system, but many of them contain acids that can make mouth ulcers worse. Fruits and vegetables that should be limited until symptoms subside include apples, apricots, mangos, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, berries and tomatoes. Juices, sauces and preserves are often more irritating than the whole fruit. It’s particularly important for people with mouth ulcers to limit sweets because bacteria in the mouth ferment them to acids that delay mouth ulcer healing and contribute to tooth decay.
Foods to Avoid
Salty foods such as pretzels and heavily spiced foods such as curries make mouth sores sting. Highly acidic fruits such as lime, lemon, pineapples, grapefruit and pomegranates have the same effect. Pickled foods and foods like salad dressing that feature vinegar as a main ingredient should also be avoided because of their acid content. Nuts and seeds are abrasive, scratching and scraping mouth ulcers, and often leaving small, hard particles behind.
If you experience persistent discomfort, the American Dental Association recommends over-the-counter medications that contain numbing agents. In some cases, applying a homemade paste made from baking soda or crushed antacid also helps. Diet does not replace conventional medical treatment for mouth ulcers or any other problem. Consult a doctor or dentist if you experience severe, recurrent ulcers especially if they remain for longer than two weeks.