Here's some news that seems to make no sense, on the face of it: A study recently published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that, even though vitamin deficiencies can cause canker sores, taking vitamin supplements doesn't prevent these lesions.
It probably goes without saying that a daily supplement also won't reduce your risk of bad breath.
A paradox resolved
So what's up? If too few vitamins leads to canker sores, why doesn't taking vitamin supplements change that? According to lead author Rajesh Lalla, the key is that the people in his study tended to have minor deficiencies. Hence, folks with more severe vitamin deficiencies may (a) certainly benefit from taking supplements and (b) have more to worry about than canker sores.
For this study, the condition that came under the microscope was recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS), a chronic oral problem that is characterized by halitosis and small, painful sores in the mouth.
The team found that people who took daily multivitamins had no fewer cases of canker sores (a.k.a aphthous ulcers) than those who received a good ol'-fashioned placebo.
"Giving patients prone to RAS multivitamins did not reduce the duration or frequency of canker sores, so in clinical practice we should not be saying 'why don't you take a multivitamin?'" Lalla explained.
So what should we be saying?
Instead of checking a person's supplementation status, the best ways to get rid of canker sores are to reduce stress levels, avoid spicy foods and swish with a specialty, alcohol-free mouthwash.
As Lalla admitted, much of the incidence of canker sores has to do with stress and oral hygiene, not vitamin deficiencies.
Hence, when it comes to minimizing ulcers and odor, your best bet is to neutralize bacteria, avoid sore-irritating ingredients (like alcohol or sodium lauryl sulfate) and take time to relax.