If you are one of the many people who suffer from canker sores, you know how uncomfortable and painful these small ulcers can be. The cause of canker sores is unknown, but what we do know is that they can put quite a damper on anyone's lifestyle. Many people will head to the drugstore and pick up a product that will relieve pain and help reduce the symptoms of the ailment, but unfortunately, many of these over-the-counter medications contain harsh additives that are extremely dangerous.
For example, many products contain benzocaine, a local anesthetic that relieves pain in babies from teething, from canker sores and other oral issues. In 2011, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration warned users of these products for rare, but life-threatening side effects, especially in young children. Sold in the form of liquid and gel, benzocaine is associated with methemoglobinemia, which results in a reduced flow of oxygen through the bloodstream.
Good vs. bad
However, new research has been released noting the chemical's pain-fighting properties. Although researchers did not take note of its negative effects, they did find that 10 and 20 percent benzocaine in topical treatments can combat pain. The FDA re-categorized the chemical to category I status as an external anesthetic or analgesic after determining there was not sufficient data noting its temporary relief of tooth pain.
Conducted by 19 researchers, the study was published in the Journal of American Dental Association May 2013. They tested 576 participants, 100 of whom were minors, for the effectiveness of benzocaine on teeth and soft tissue.
Researchers found that both 10 and 20 percent benzocaine gels provided more relief than the control gel. They also explained that the higher percentage had a larger impact on toothaches. Scientists also observed the participants for periodontal abscesses, open caries, short- or long-acting topical or systemic analgesic agents, and then randomly assigned each individual to a group that received either the control or the 10 or 20 percent benzocaine.
Patients were asked to document their pain intensity and relief based on a scale of 0 to 4 at five-minute intervals during the first 30 minutes and every 10 minutes until they reached a maximum time of 120 minutes. The results showed that 80 and 79 percent of the 10 and 20 percent benzocaine groups, respectively, found relief. The 20 percent benzocaine group had 7 percent more respondents.
"Participants completed a five-level ordinal global satisfaction assessment scale used frequently in postsurgical dental pain studies at the conclusion of the 120-minute evaluation period or at the time they dropped out of the study owing to inadequate pain relief," study researchers noted.
While benzocaine products do not contain a warning label, the FDA warns that they should not be used on children younger than age 2. Additionally, it's important to be extra careful of doses, and consumers should not use the product more than four times a day.
Many people suffer from canker sores on a regular basis, but there is no reason to put yourself or other family members in harm's way. TheraBreath toothpastes, like TheraBrite Plus Toothpaste, work to neutralize acids in the mouth that can cause canker sores. In order for the toothpaste to be ultra-effective, make sure that you are brushing the entire mouth, including the gums, cheeks and tongue. This product is Kosher, vegan-approved and is made with pure, healthy ingredients.