Hot or sour foods can feel like red hot pokers in your mouth if you’re suffering from canker sores. If mealtime makes your mouth feel like you’ve been stung by a million bees, some easy home remedies can come to your aid to get rid of canker sores.
Quite different from cold sores, canker sores or aphthous ulcers are small and shallow lesions that manifest on the gums and soft tissues of the mouth and throat. Minor canker sores often clear up in one to two weeks, while major sores that occur in clusters may take up to six weeks to heal and can cause scarring.
- Causes and Symptoms of Canker Sores
- Preventing Canker Sores
- Home Treatment for Canker Sores
- Method 1: Use Salt Water
- Method 2: Use Alum
- Method 3: Use Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 4: Use Aspirin
- Method 5: Use Baking Soda
- Method 6: Use Hydrogen Peroxide
- Method 7: Use L-Lysine
- Method 8: Use Pickle Juice
- Method 9: Use Listerine
Causes and Symptoms of Canker Sores
- Canker sores appear as an oval, flat grey surface with red edges and are often marked by a tingling or burning sensation in the area one or two days before manifestation.
- The ulcer can manifest as a single sore or in clusters and can make talking or eating quite painful.
- The precise cause of canker sores is unclear, but a number of factors may trigger them. A minor injury to the tissue due to an accidental cheek bite, rigorous brushing or dental work is a common cause.
- Canker sores can also occur as part of an allergic response or as a result of emotional stress.
- Hormonal imbalance during puberty, menstruation and menopause can also trigger these ulcers. This often makes women more susceptible than men.
Preventing Canker Sores
- Avoid hot, spicy and acidic foods including citruses, as these can often cause as well as aggravate canker sores. Coffee, chocolate, nuts and seeds can also aggravate the problem and should be avoided.
- Parsley, salmon, spinach, kale, carrots and yogurt can lessen the frequency of recurrent breakouts. These foods contain vitamin B12, folate, zinc and iron, which can help in prevention.
- If you are prone to canker sores, avoid toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate, as it can also act as a trigger.
Home Treatment for Canker Sores
Over-the-counter and prescription medication for canker sores often come with a host of side effects and the results are not always satisfactory.
Home remedies provide relief without the dreaded side effects or costing you a great deal of money. Here are nine easy home remedies that you can try to get rid of your canker sores.
Method 1: Use Salt Water
An effective toothache remedy, a salt water rinse is a great way to complement your regular oral hygiene. A salt rinse is often recommended after dental procedures to speed up healing. It can also be used to treat canker sores.
A salt rinse helps draw fluids out of the sore, thus drying it up and allowing it to heal. This draining of fluids is especially helpful for puffed up sores that often get bitten or irritated. Salt also prevents the sores from getting infected, while the warm water soothes the pain.
Things you’ll need:
- Warm water (soothes pain) – 1 cup
- Salt (disinfects and promotes healing) – 1 teaspoon
Step 1. Dissolve the salt in water
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of warm water.
- Stir well to dissolve the salt into the water.
Step 2. Use the warm salt water as a mouth rinse
- Use this salt water as a mouth rinse, swishing the liquid around the sore.
Repeat this process 3 times a day for a few days. You should experience relief after the first day, but continue with the remedy until the sore fully heals.
Method 2: Use Alum
Alum is one of the most effective home remedies when it comes to canker sores. It’s very inexpensive, and you can easily find it in the spice aisle of your local grocery store.
While it is usually used to preserve the crispiness of pickles, this spice can help cauterize a cold sore. Its astringent properties dry out the lesion and speed up the healing process. After an initial burning sensation, it numbs the area and provides immense relief from the pain.
Single-Step Treatment: Place alum directly on the canker sore
- Simply hold a pea-sized piece of alum directly over the canker sore in your mouth. Keep the alum over the sore for 1 minute before removing it and rinsing your mouth.
- If using powdered or granular alum, apply it on the ulcer with a wet cotton swab.
- The bitter taste will make you salivate, but try to avoid getting saliva on the area treated with alum for best results.
- Usually, a single application can heal a canker sore, but severe sores may require subsequent applications.
Repeat application once every day until the sore heals completely.
Method 3: Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Ladies often use apple cider vinegar to tighten their pores, but the astringent properties of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar are also quite beneficial in getting rid of canker sores as well.
Apple cider vinegar dries out the sore by draining excess fluid from the puffed up ulcer. This also inhibits the growth of bacteria, which could cause an infection in the sore.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply apple cider vinegar on the sore
- Dip a sterile cotton swab into raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Use it to apply the apple cider vinegar on the canker sore.
- When applying undiluted apple cider vinegar, limit it to the area with the sore. This protects the teeth from enamel erosion due to the vinegar.
Reapply 3 or 4 times daily for a few days to completely heal the sore.
Method 4: Use Aspirin
Aspirin is one of the relatively painless remedies for treating canker sores. It’s a pain reliever that also prevents the ulcer from festering. Always use uncoated adult or baby aspirin for treating canker sores.
The maximum amount of aspirin recommended for daily oral use is 4 grams. You should not exceed this amount when using aspirin to get rid of canker sores.
Things you’ll need:
- Uncoated aspirin (pain reliever) – 2 or 3 tablets
Step 1. Make a paste of aspirin
- Put 2 or 3 uncoated aspirin tablets into a small bowl. Reduce the quantity if it’s more than you need.
- Add a small amount of water to dissolve the aspirin and make a thick paste.
Step 2. Apply the paste on the canker sore
- Apply a small amount of the aspirin paste on the canker sore using a sterile cotton swab.
- After 10 minutes, rinse off the paste with plain water.
Repeat the application twice a day, provided that you’re not exceeding the recommended oral dosage of 4 grams per the day. This remedy should provide relief within 1 to 2 days.
Note: This remedy is not for people under the age of 19 years, especially if they have chicken pox or the flu, due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
Method 5: Use Baking Soda
The acidic environment in your mouth can irritate canker sores, preventing them from healing. Baking soda can help by neutralizing the acids and making your mouth alkaline.
This inexpensive solution also helps seal the ulcer, allowing it to heal. It brings immense relief from the inflammation in the sore.
Things you’ll need:
- Baking soda (healing properties)
Step 1. Make a paste of baking soda
- Put some baking soda in a small bowl.
- Add a little water and mix it into a thin paste.
Step 2. Apply the paste on the canker sore
- Apply the baking soda paste on the affected areas in your mouth.
- Let the paste sit for a few minutes, then rinse your mouth with lukewarm water.
Repeat 3 or 4 times daily until the symptoms subside completely.
Method 6: Use Hydrogen Peroxide
Usually used to disinfect cuts and wounds, hydrogen peroxide can act as a medicated rinse to provide relief from canker sores. It will eliminate the chance of infection and allow the ulcer to heal.
Step 1. Dilute the hydrogen peroxide with water
- Pour ¼ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide into a glass.
- Add ¼ cup of water to dilute the hydrogen peroxide.
Step 2. Use the hydrogen peroxide solution as a mouth rinse
- Simply swish the liquid around the sore in your mouth for up to 1 minute before spitting it out.
- Use up the entire ½ cup of the solution in this way. Avoid swallowing the solution, as it may cause temporary nausea and upset stomach.
Repeat 3 times a day until the canker sore heals completely.
Method 7: Use L-Lysine
Even though cold sores are quite different from canker sores, L-lysine can take care of both. Nutritionally oriented health care professionals believe that a deficiency in lysine may trigger canker sores.
L-lysine is an essential amino acid that is not synthesized in the body. This means that you need to use dietary sources and supplements to provide your body the required amount. This method works best when used at the onset of the canker sore.
- Eat poultry, red meat, parmesan cheese, sardines, cod, eggs and dairy products to get lysine from dietary sources. Vegans can eat soy, nuts and legumes like lentils and beans to get their share of lysine.
As a dietary supplement, take 1,000 mg of L-lysine 3 times a day for a week.
Notes: Do not combine L-lysine supplements with calcium supplements, as lysine can increase calcium absorption in the body. Excess intake of L-Lysine supplements can pose a risk of gallstones and kidney dysfunction. Consult your health provider before taking L-lysine supplements if you have cholesterol or triglyceride issues.
Method 8: Use Pickle Juice
Pickle juice can come in quite handy to deal with canker sores without much effort. Pickle juice is mostly vinegar and salt, spiced with alum, dill and garlic. Many of these ingredients are listed as canker sore remedies in this article itself, making it a perfect solution to treat the sores.
Pickle juice will numb the area, providing instant relief from pain. It will also seal the sore, allowing it to heal.
Single-Step Treatment: Swish pickle juice around the sore daily
- Just take a swig of pickle juice, swish it around the canker sore for a few minutes and then spit it out.
Repeat 3 times daily until the sore heals completely.
Method 9: Use Listerine
Listerine is another remedy that can bring instant pain relief by numbing the canker sore. Alcohol is the active ingredient responsible for its benefits against canker sores, so alcohol-free mouthwashes won’t work.
The alcohol in Listerine disinfects and dries out the canker sore, allowing it to heal rapidly. Be prepared for a stinging sensation for the first 30 seconds, followed by the numbing sensation.
Single-Step Treatment: Rinse your mouth with Listerine 3 times daily
- Take a capful of Listerine and swish it around in your mouth for up to 1 minute before spitting it out.
- Rinse your mouth with water.
Repeat 3 or 4 times a day for a few days until your mouth is free of canker sores.
- Like a salt water rinse, you can also make a baking soda rinse to get relief from canker sores.
- You can apply an alum solution on the canker sore using a sterile cotton swab.
- You can mix apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of Benadryl and apply it on the canker sore.
- You can use diluted white vinegar as a mouth rinse to get relief from canker sores.