You are here:Home > Health Topics > Home Remedies for Canker Sores


Canker Sores

Canker sores (apthous ulcer or aphthous stomatitis), form small to medium sized sores on the soft tissue of your mouth. They usually appear on areas that do not have bone under them, for example your cheek, on top or under your tongue, throat, or inner surface of the lips.

Approximately 20% of the population are affected by canker sore, with women getting more than men.

They appear without warning and can even make eating and talking troublesome. Canker sores are not contagious. They usually last about 2 - 3 weeks and go away on their own. They usually appear by themselves or may be in a cluster. There are many canker sore causes, but there are also home remedies for canker sores that you can try on your own.

Signs and Symptoms of Canker Sores

Canker sores can be painful and have ulcers that appear cratered. They appear with a red border and are usually white, gray or yellow in the middle.

You may feel tingling, burning or prickling depending on the stage of the sores. Speaking may not be an issue, except if there are multiple sores. You may find it hard to eat during the painful phase, specially if they are also present in the throat.

What Causes Canker Sores?

It's not clear what exactly causes canker sores. We do know there are several factors that may contribute to their outbreaks:

  • Trauma in your mouth from biting on hard, crunchy food; injury while brushing your teeth, biting your cheek

  • Food sensitivities, such as nuts, spicy or acidic foods, chocolate, strawberries, eggs

  • Weak immune system or autoimmune disorders due to certain illness such as inflammatory bowel diseases, Behcet's disease, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, lupus erythematosus

  • Toothpaste and mouthwash containing sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

  • Braces that irritate the gums

  • Poor fitting dentures or sharp broken tooth or filling

  • Hot food or drinks

  • Stress

  • Hormonal changes may be the reason why they appear in women more than men

  • Inherited

Treatment with Drugs

The risk of canker sores is that they may recur either rarely or frequently in your mouth. If they become large and very painful, your doctor or dentist may recommend certain drugs to help with the symptoms:

  • Mouthwash containing steroid dexamethasone to help with inflammation and soreness. Antibiotics such as tetracycline in liquid form may also be prescribed. However, tetracycline is known to stain teeth in children.

  • Over-the-counter and prescription pastes such as Orabase with benzocaine, Aphthasol (amlexanox) and Lidex (fluocinonide) may relieve pain and speed healing.

According to American Academy Physician, to apply medicine that needs to be applied directly to the sore, dry the sore with a cotton swab. Dab another cotton swab in the medicine and apply to canker sore. They recommend not eating or drinking for 30 minutes to allow the medicine to penetrate the sore and not be washed away.

Natural Home Remedies for Canker Sores

Canker sores generally last about 2 to 3 weeks, even without any care. The following are are some steps to help you during the process or to help prevent their recurrence:

  • Avoid any toothpaste or mouthwash with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

  • Avoid hot foods or drinks, spicy and salty foods, citrus, nuts, chocolate

  • Use baking soda toothpaste such as Cleure

  • Mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 1 part water and apply with cotton swab

  • Take over-the-counter amino acid L-lysine daily (500 mg), or take 1000 mg during outbreaks

  • Apply ice to the lesion

  • Take supplement L-lysine 500 mg daily to prevent outbreaks. During outbreaks, take 1000 mg for rapid healing of the sores. L-lysine is very effective towards preventing both canker sores, and cold sores (caused by herpes simplex virus). (webMD)

Recommended Products
SLS free toothpaste Alcohol free mouthwash Alcohol free breath spray
More Oral Health Articles by Dr. Flora Stay

How the Mouth Affect's Women's Health

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Toothpaste Ingredients to Avoid

Get Rid of Constant Bad Breath

Dry Mouth & Mouth Sores

Healthy Snacks for Healthy Teeth

How to Brush and Floss Your Teeth Properly