Getting Rid of Canker Sores
Canker sores, which are sometimes called “mouth ulcers,” are found inside the mouth or around the inside of lips. They can be very painful. For some, they can appear multiple times in a single month, which is not pleasurable. But how do you get rid of canker sores?
Here are some…
Ways to Get Rid of Canker Sores
1. Salt water method.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of table salt with 1 cup of warm water.
- Stir the solution then use it to rinse your mouth several times. This helps to disinfect your mouth. It also helps in relieving the pain that can be inflicted by the canker sore.
- After rinsing your mouth with the salt water, collect a pinch of salt and place it directly on the canker sore. This is usually a very painful process, but it’s one of the best ways to speed up the healing of the sores.
2. Aloe vera and baking soda method.
- Use aloe juice to rinse your mouth.
- Place baking soda on the sores after rinsing. This remedy is not all that painful but it might take longer.
Mix equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide (3%) and apply to sore with a Q-tip. Take care not to swallow any of the hydrogen peroxide if possible. Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that will reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and help the canker sore heal.
4. Milk of magnesia.
Dab it on active spots a few times a day. The antacid effect of the milk of magnesia neutralizes the acidic environment, changing the pH, and making it less supportive of the bacteria in the mouth that aggravate a canker sore.
5. Antihistamine/antacid mix.
6. OTC mouthwash.
Regular old mouthwash does work, although there are different OTC mouthwash solutions that are specifically targeted to help treat canker sores. They include:
- Diphenhydramine suspension washes (Benadryl Allergy liquid and others). These types of washes generally treat the pain of the canker sore. The mouthwash solution should not be swallowed.
7. Treat the pain (optional).
- You can take over-the-counter painkillers or apply benzocaine gels (such as Anbesol and Orajel) directly onto the active sores.
- Suck on ice chips. Try to hold them over the sores, allowing them to melt over the area. Ice should help numb the pain and reduce inflammation.
8. Try other miscellaneous remedies.
Three of these remedies are designed to change the pH in your mouth. The theory here is that changing the pH will make your mouth less hospitable to the bacteria that are causing the canker sore.
- Eat yogurt daily.
- Apply a wet black tea bag to the ulcer.
- Squeeze the oil of a Vitamin E capsule onto the sore, repeating several times per day.
When to See a Doctor:
- Visit a specialist if you get frequent sores – Do this if you’re constantly battling canker sores and none of the above fixes are working because there could be an underlying issue. For some conditions, canker sores are an early and important sign that something else is wrong.
- Schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist – Consider investigating whether you have Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, or inflammatory bowel disease. All three are autoimmune conditions that may cause frequent mouth sores. You might also ask the doctor if it’s possible you have Helicobacter pylori, more commonly known as H. pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers.
- Schedule an appointment with an immunologist – If you’ve ruled out gastrointestinal disease, consider visiting an immunologist. There are a few rare immune conditions that can manifest as persistent mouth sores.
Prescriptions & Other Medical Treatment for Canker Sores:
1. Prescription mouth rinse.
You have two options for prescription mouth rinses:
- Dexamethasone, a steroid mouth rinse that should reduce pain and inflammation, Dexamethasone should reduce the number of recurrences but is generally reserved for more severe cases.
- Tetracycline, an antibiotic used for more extreme cases, is something you can use if your sores will heal quickly, although your mouth will become susceptible to a fungal condition called thrush. Thrush is an infection of the yeast fungus in the mucous membranes of your mouth. There are also other risks associated with using antibiotics.
2. Topical gels and ointments.
Topical ointments such as benzocaine (Anbesol), amlexanox (Aphthasol) and fluocinonide (Lidex, Vanos) may relieve pain and speed healing if applied as soon as canker sores appear. Doctors usually suggest treating sores with ointments 2-4 times during the day.
- Other oral medication not specifically intended to treat canker sores may be helpful in treating canker sores. Cimetidine (Tagamet) and colchicine – gout medicines – are sometimes effective in treating canker sores.
- Steroidal oral medications are generally used as a last resort, only when canker sores don’t respond to other medications. (Doctors still don’t know what exactly causes canker sores.)
Cauterizing — or burning the surface tissue — of sores can keep open sores from getting bigger, and the burn will eventually heal over. Most cauterizations are performed with chemical solutions such as silver nitrate.
The best way to get rid of canker sores is to prevent it. Here are some tips on how to prevent a canker sore:
1. Try to stop the cause.
Canker sores can be caused by a variety of factors. If you have several cankers or you get them repeatedly, consider:
- Brushing your teeth more gently. Brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Floss daily.
- Changing your toothpaste. Toothpastes or mouthwashes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate can cause canker sores and continue to aggravate them. Try substituting natural toothpaste into your regimen.
- Relaxing. Many people get canker sores during times of intense emotional stress. Like acne and eczema, canker sores can be exacerbated by stressors.
2. Pay attention to your diet.
Diet can have a significant effect — beneficial or detrimental — on canker sores.
- Avoid spicy or acidic foods, which can irritate sores further. Peppers and sodas should be shunned. Fruits and vegetables such as lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes, and strawberries may also cause canker sores.
- Get more B12, zinc, iron, and folic acid. Take a vitamin supplement, or multiple supplements, that contain these every morning.
3. Avoid irritating the inside of your mouth.
Canker sores often appear after cuts and lesions break open the skin inside the mouth.
- Chew slowly. Many people get canker sores after accidentally biting the inside of their cheek or lip while chewing. While eating, take small portions into your mouth and chew slowly.
- If you have braces or other orthodontics, eliminate areas that protrude into the skin. Talk to your orthodontist about eliminating sharp corners or wires that may cut into the skin. Ask for orally-safe wax that can be applied to orthodontics to help ward off cuts and other injuries.
- Ill-fitting dentures may also cause canker sores. Talk to your dentist about options concerning your dentures.
4. Treat other medical conditions that may cause or make your canker sores worse.
A simple canker sore, which is common and appears three or four times a year, last up to a week. It is likely not caused by any underlying health problems. A complex canker sore, which lasts longer and is likely to recur, may be due to an underlying health problem.
- Individuals with compromised immune systems may be at a higher risk for canker sores.
- Individuals with gastrointestinal tract diseases, such as Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, may also be at a higher risk for complex canker sores.
5. Take a lysine nutritional supplement.
Nutritional lysine supplements, like L-lysine, provide essential amino acids that help with tissue growth and repair. This can reduce the occurrence of canker sores and limit the expansion of small canker sores.
- Cold sores are different from canker sores — they form on the lips or outside the mouth.
- Don’t play around with your canker sores using your tongue as this will cause the healing process to take longer.
- As with most illnesses, drinking lots of water will help your body heal itself.
- Unlike cold sores, canker sores or mouth ulcers are not contagious, kissing someone with a canker sore will not harm your partner, but it may still be uncomfortable.
- If you’re constantly getting canker sores in the exact same place, you may have a sharp ridge or point on one of your teeth. A dentist may be able to grind this sharp edge away with little to no pain.
- If you are susceptible to canker sores, avoid using hydrogen peroxide or any toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain it, as repeated use can prolong the ulcers because of the corrosive nature of this chemical!