How to Treat Canker Sores or Mouth Ulcers
Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, can form on the gums, inner
cheeks and lips. Canker sores, while annoying, are common, and usually
heal in a week or two. They are not to be confused withcold sores, which
form on theoutsideof the mouth. Here are a few suggestions to help deal
with these pesky ulcers.
Part One: Treating Canker Sores with Home Remedies
1Use a salt or baking soda rinse. Mix a few pinches of salt in a glass of
warm water. Swish around your mouth and spit out, repeating two or three
times a day.<An alternative to this is a baking soda. Mix?one teaspoon
baking soda with several ounces of warm water. Swish and spit out.
Alternately, create a paste with equal parts baking soda and water. Daub
the paste over the canker sore with a Q-tip and let dry.
Salt water and baking soda both help the mouth heal itself by reducing
the alkalinity and bacteria in the mouth.
2Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Mix equal parts water and hydrogen
peroxide (3%) and apply to sore with 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
3Use milk of magnesia. Dab it on active spots a few times a day. The
antacid effect of milk of magnesia neutralizes the acidic environment,
changing the pH, and making it less supportive of the bacteria in the
mouth that aggravate the canker sore.
4Use an antihistamine/antacid mix. Combine 1 part diphenhydramine (sold
as Benadryl) with 1 part antacid, such as Maalox or Kaopectate. Swish
around your mouth and spit out.
5Use 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
6Treat the pain (optional). You can take over-the-counter painkillers, or
apply benzocaine gels (such as Anbesol and Orajel) directly onto 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
7Try other miscellaneous remedies. Two 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.
Part Two: When to See a Doctor
1Visit a specialist if you get frequent sores. If you're constantly
battling canker sores and none of the above fixes are working, perhaps
there's an underlying issue.For some conditions, canker sores are an
early and important sign that something else is wrong.
2Schedule 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 can
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.
3Schedule 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.
Part Three: Treating Canker Sores with Prescription Medications
1Request a 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
Tetracycline, an antibiotic used for more extreme cases. Your sores will
heal quickly, but your mouth will be susceptible to a fungal condition
called thrush. Thrush is an infection of yeast fungus in the mucous
membranes of the mouth.
2Request 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.
3Request cauterization. Cauterizing ¡ª or burning the surface tissue ¡ª
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.
Part Four: General Tips for Avoiding Canker Sores
1Try 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. Likeacneandeczema, canker sores can be exacerbated by stressors.
2Pay attention to your diet. Diet can have a significant effect ¡ª
beneficial and detrimental ¡ª 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.
3Try to irritate the inside of your mouth as little as possible. 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.
4Treat other medical conditions that may cause or make canker sores
worse. Simple canker sores, which are common and appear three or four
times a year and last up to a week, are likely not caused by underlying
health problems. Complex canker sores, which last longer and are likely
to recur, may be due to underlying health problems.Individuals with
compromised immune systems may be at higher risk for canker sores.
Individuals with gastrointestinal tract diseases, such as Celiac disease
and Crohn's disease, may also be at higher risk for complex canker sores.
As with most illnesses, drinking lots of water will help your body to
Cold sores are different from canker sores ¡ª they form on the lips or
outside the mouth.
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 can grind
this sharp edge away with little to no pain.
It may be difficult, but try to avoid biting your cheeks or the inside of
your lip, especially after dental procedures where novacaine has been
injected. Frequently, trauma such as biting will lead to an aphthous
ulcer. Also, keep mental notes when you accidentally bite your mouth to
see if you develop a sore there.
Put straight salt on to sore! Stings but works or get some baby's
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Sources and Citations