A canker sore is a small lesion that forms inside the mouth. Medically referred to as an aphthous ulcer, they can affect the inner cheek, inside lower lip, roof of the mouth, or the upper throat. Typically, just one will appear, but in some instances, the sores can form in a small cluster. For information on what causes canker sores, click here.
Canker sores can be painful, disrupting normal activities such as eating, drinking, and talking. They usually heal on their own, but the pain can last for 10 to 14 days. Aside from remedies to ease the pain, treatment is generally not required for minor lesions. However, if you are suffering from larger lesions that are accompanied by excruciating pain and high fever, it is important to see a doctor immediately for further analysis.
Acid Food: Fruits and vegetables such as oranges, apples, pineapples, strawberries, lemons, and tomatoes have high levels of acid. If canker sores occur frequently, it might be best to limit the intake of these foods.
Chewing Gum: Gum typically builds up acid as one chews, with the acid splashing around in the mouth. This action can create an environment conducive to canker sore development, so you might want to limit this activity.
Spicy Food: While you may have a fondness for spicy Buffalo wings or Indian food, spices can exacerbate this problem. Cutting out any type of spicy food can help eliminate the development of new sores.
Oral Hygiene: Using a soft toothbrush will help eliminate the problem of irritating and abrading the tissues in your mouth. The choice of a soft toothbrush, daily flossing, and using a sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)-free toothpaste will help keep outbreaks to a minimum.
- Swirl a glass of warm salt water in your mouth.
- Apply a half-and-half mixture of hydrogen peroxide and milk of magnesia to the lesion using a cotton swab, three to four times a day.
- Mix one half liquid diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to one half milk of magnesia and swish around your mouth for one minute or so. Be careful not to swallow the mixture.
- Cover the lesion with a baking soda paste and then place a piece of ice over the sore.
- Tea contains tannin, a compound that can decrease pain. Place black teabags directly on the lesion.
- While cayenne pepper is associated with spicy food, lozenges with this ingredient can help ease the pain.
- Aloe is a great product to use because it helps soothes irritation and inflammation, and will also prevent the sore from getting worse. Apply aloe juice directly on the sore several times a day.
- Try to de-stress through yoga or meditation since this can help lessen some of the pain.
- Analgesic gels that contain benzocaine will temporarily numb the lesion, providing instant pain relief.
- Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can be used to relieve pain.
- Carbamide peroxide solutions release oxygen on contact with the ulcer. This action cleans the sore, offering pain relief as well as antibacterial properties.
- Extra vitamin C, B, and/or zinc may expedite the healing process, especially if a lack of these nutrients played a role in lesion formation.
Doctor Prescribed Treatment
Medical intervention may be warranted for canker sores that do not respond to over-the-counter remedies or those that do not heal within two weeks. There is no test or diagnostic exam other than looking at your mouth, however, a doctor will be able to recommend the most optimal treatments. Your doctor may prescribe a topical paste or suggest an over-the-counter ointment that will help relieve pain and speed healing time. The following are doctor prescribed treatments:
- Silver nitrate provides fast relief and healing. Application should be done by a medical provider, although silver nitrate sticks are available online. There is a burnt taste associated with their use, but the pain dissipates completely within a few hours and the sore heals within days.
- Debacterol, a combination of sulfonated phenolic compounds and sulfuric acid, chemically burns the ulcer. It works in a similar manner to silver nitrate and is only available by prescription.
- Various antibiotics and corticosteroids can be prescribed, which provide quick pain relief and reduced healing time for severe sores on the tongue.
- A mouthwash that contains tetracycline or a mouth rinse that contains an active ingredient called steroid dexamethasone, will help reduce excess swelling, inflammation, and pain.
- A blood test can determine if you have low vitamin levels. If this is found to be the case, your doctor may suggest taking nutritional supplements to help boost these levels, which may prevent future outbreaks.
If your canker sore is a symptom of a more serious medical condition, your doctor will need to perform additional tests in order to determine the underlying condition and appropriate treatment.
TheraBreath® Products to Treat Canker Sores
TheraBreath toothpastes and oral hygiene products were created based on extensive research conducted by Dr. Katz. He discovered that many problems arise from chronic dry mouth syndrome, the proliferation of anaerobic bacteria, and an environment devoid of oxygen. Further, many name brand toothpastes contain the abrasive, foaming agent SLS, a surfactant that is also included in cleaning products like detergents and shampoos. Researchers have correlated SLS with recurring canker sores due to its caustic nature and capacity to irritate and abrade sensitive tissues inside the mouth.
TheraBreath products are natural and do not contain SLS, alcohol, benzalkonium chloride, or saccharin. TheraBreath offers several toothpastes that may help prevent the formation of canker sores, while alleviating bad breath and dry mouth.