22 Remedies To Get Rid Of Your Canker Sore

canker sore on lip

Canker sores – aka aphthous ulcers – are painful, round, crater-looking lesions that form inside of your mouth. Although temporary, they can be quite uncomfortable. Canker sores remedies at home can help soothe your discomfort without having to call the dentist’s office.

What Are Canker Sores 

Unlike cold sores (fever blisters), canker sores are usually formed from things such as mechanical irritation – such as accidentally biting your tongue or braces irritating your cheek – or even a food sensitivity, like eating something acidic.[1]

The smaller size of canker sores usually means they’re only a few millimeters wide in most cases. Viral strains of ulcers (such as herpetiform or canker sores) tend to be seen in small clusters of multiple ulcers, or single and much larger lesions.

How Long Do Canker Sores Last

A typical canker sore will last anywhere from 10-14 days until it fully heals. It can keep recurring if the area is consistently irritated, making it difficult if not impossible to heal until the irritant is addressed. If you have a DIY canker sores remedy, home care is the best option for relief as your mouth heals.[2]

Canker Sores Remedies

1) Using An OTC Gel

Topical oral pain relievers like Orajel brand or similar over-the-counter (OTC) products can provide temporary relief for aphthous ulcers. Since it contains actual ingredients designed for taking away pain, an OTC gel is safe to use as directed if you’re looking for canker sores remedies at home. 

Just take note: FDA guidelines warn about using OTC gels on children or for extended periods of time.[3]

2) Using A Mouth Rinse

Pain-relieving mouth rinses can be made from things like milk of magnesia, liquid antihistamines for what’s called a “miracle mouthwash” when combined with a prescribed anesthetic like lidocaine as prescribed by your dentist. Some people find that a warm saltwater rinse is also helpful. Avoid OTC mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as they could irritate your ulcer even further.

3) Using Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

Although it’s not desirable to rinse with hydrogen peroxide[4] on an everyday basis, temporary use can serve to be beneficial when it comes to finding a canker sores remedy. Home applications usually include rinsing with a diluted mix of 1:1 peroxide to water rinse a few times a day, or dabbing the area with a soaked cotton swab.

4) Using A Salt Rinse

Saltwater rinses are ideal for soothing irritated areas inside of your mouth, whether it’s after an oral surgery or because you have some type of an aphthous ulcer since it helps with inflammation. For canker sores remedy home rinses, mix one teaspoon of salt in an 8 oz. glass of lukewarm or slightly warm water until completely dissolved. Rinse gently for several seconds, spit, and then continue to rinse with the remainder of the solution, repeating until you’ve used all of the water. You can safely use a salt rinse 2-3 times a day.

5) Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Overzealous brushing and flossing can irritate areas inside of your mouth, causing irritation that may lead to an ulcer. Similarly, not keeping your mouth clean enough can raise your risk of infections where ulcers develop as a side-effect.

6) Vitamin B-12 Supplements

It’s thought that people who are deficient in vitamin B-12 may be more prone to developing oral ulcers/canker sores. If that’s the case, supplementing with a B-12 vitamin from your local health food store could prove helpful. B-12 is also called “cobalamin”, and it’s naturally found in foods such as fish, eggs, poultry, and dairy products.

7) Drinking Chamomile Tea

Chamomile has long been used for a variety or holistic purposes. One of which is drinking it in an herbal tea or adding the essential oil to self-care products. Chamomile tea[5] is specifically known for easing swelling/inflammation including the discomfort of oral ulcers (as well as numerous other health conditions, like GI ailments or rheumatic pain.)

8) Chamomile Compress

Rather than drinking a chamomile tea, you can also use dried chamomile or essential oil from the chamomile plant to serve in a safe compress. Applying the chamomile compress to the area where your ulcer is can provide a holistic, drug-free option for gently treating canker sore pain. It’s among one of the safest to use canker sores remedies at home!

9) Honey

Bee-lieve it or not (see what I did there?) honey has been scientifically proven to help relief oral mucosal ulcers. When applied to the sore, it actually shortens the length of time it takes for your ulcer to heal. In fact, some health researchers have used honey on other types of wounds – such as after surgery – to reduce the chances of reinfection and aid in faster healing.[6]

10) Coconut Oil

“Oil pulling” has been around for a while. Some people swear by it, even though there isn’t really a lot of scientific data out there to back it up. But in the situation where we’re discussing canker sores remedies at home, it’s a little easier to monitor. Some people claim to see improvement in their aphthous ulcers when they dab coconut oil on it. It’s probably because of the soothing action (reducing friction to the area) combined with the antimicrobial properties that coconut oil may contain. Bottom line: it won’t hurt to try it and it at least provides a protective barrier.

11) Avoid Eating Very Spicy, Salty, Or Acidic Foods

If there’s a surefire way to irritate your canker sores, make them flare up more often, or lengthen the time it takes for them to heal, it’s eating irritating foods. Acidic foods or spicy meals tend to be the worst! In fact, some people tend to get mouth ulcers simply by eating something acidic like an orange.

12) Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is frequently used for soothing skin pain associated with burns. Some people grow it at home, snapping off a piece and rubbing the natural aloe on their skin as needed. Since aloe vera can be consumed, it’s safe enough to use on canker sores and other types of mouth ulcers.

13) Suck On Ice Chips

Normally, chewing on ice is bad for your teeth (it can cause broken or damaged dental work, or even chip your enamel.) But if you have an ulcer it’s safe to rub it with ice or hold an ice chip in that area of your mouth, assuming it doesn’t cause your teeth to be sensitive. The cold temperatures create a temporary numbing sensation.

14) Sage Mouthwash

Like chamomile, sage is another type of holistic herb that some people claim improves the symptoms of ulcers and gingivitis, when used in a mouthwash.

15) Alum Powder

You’ll find alum with other seasonings at the grocery store. It’s frequently used for activities like pickling. It can also be applied directly to oral ulcers to shorten how long they last. Just be prepared for an extremely bitter taste!

16) Baking Soda Rinse

Like peroxide and salt, baking soda can be diluted into a glass of water to rinse with. But since it’s also an irritant, be sure to use it sparingly.

17) Yogurt

Depending on what’s causing your oral ulcers, eating yogurt can help, since it contains natural probiotics.

18) Milk Of Magnesia

When mixed with liquid antihistamine and lidocaine, milk of magnesia completes the recipe for “miracle mouthwash”. This rinse is used for managing severe oral pain due to oral ulcers.

19) Echinacea

When applied to wounds on the skin – including ulcers – echinacea may help to speed up healing. Use it the same way you would chamomile.

20) Apple Cider Vinegar Mouthwash

Another safe mouthwash alternative is to rinse with apple cider vinegar, which is a natural antimicrobial. Or you can apply it directly to the canker sore with a cotton swab.

21) Zinc Lozenges

Some people claim that sucking on a zinc lozenge helps relieve pain that’s coming from a canker sore. But like any type of vitamin supplement, you must only use it as directed.

22) DGL Mouthwash

If you don’t mind the taste of black licorice, DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice – say that five times fast) can be “activated” by your saliva to help heal canker sores.

When To Consult Your Dentist?

If you have a breakout of several canker sores, an ulcer that just doesn’t seem to heal, or discomfort that’s making it impossible to stick to a healthy diet, it’s best to talk to your dentist. Especially if you’re experiencing a fever or other illness. Canker sores remedies at home can be helpful, but if you need something stronger your dentist can help provide faster relief.

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