Q:

Is gargling salt water an effective treatment for white spots in your mouth?

A:

Quick Answer

A salt water gargle or rinse can be effective in treating white spots, known as oral thrush, when a part of an at-home oral health care regimen. Dietary changes may also help to improve the presence of the white fungus in the mouth.

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Full Answer

To avoid scraping the lesions, people with oral thrush should use a soft bristle toothbrush. Until the fungus is gone, the toothbrush needs to be changed on a regular basis. Mouthwashes and sprays should be avoided as many of them destroy the "good" bacteria along with the "bad" bacteria in the mouth. Good bacteria in the mouth are necessary to control the presence of the fungus, known as candida albicans. Instead of mouthwash, people can gargle and rinse their mouth with salt water or a solution of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.

Eating plain, unsweetened yogurt with Lactobacillus acidophilus or taking probiotic capsules can help to restore the "good" bacteria in the mouth. Since sugar feeds the fungus, it is also recommended that people suffering from diabetes maintain appropriate blood sugar levels.

For persistent cases of oral thrush, a doctor or dentist can prescribe an anti-fungal treatment. Possible treatments include a lozenge that dissolves in the mouth or an anti-fungal mouthwash. Oral anti-fungal medications can be prescribed for patients whose cases are resistant to initial treatments.

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