Published April 29, 2018

Canker sores are shallow and small lesions that appear on your gums’ base or your mouth’s soft tissues. Also known as aphthous ulcers, these are not developed on your lips or around your mouth like cold sores but occur inside your mouth. However, these sores may become painful and make talking and eating difficult. In majority cases, canker sores disappear after a week or more. There are some effective home remedies that can be used to reduce and prevent canker sores.  

Causes of Canker Sores

There are various factors that can lead to canker sores. The following are some of the probable causes:

  • Some medications result in appearance of canker sores, including Antihypertensives, Antiretrovirals, Antibiotics, Protease inhibitorsVasodilators, Platelet aggregation inhibitors, Anticholinergic bronchodilatorsPhenytoin, Sulfa drugs, Penicillamine, Immunosuppressants, Chemotherapy medicines, Oral nicotineBeta-blockers, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and Aspirin.
  • Oral cancer
  • Nutritional deficiencies or conditions like Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease
  • Weakness of immune system like flu or cold
  • Organ transplant, AIDS/HIV
  • Autoimmune conditions like Behçet’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Smoking
  • Emotional stress
  • Hormones
  • Allergies or food sensitivities
  • Deficiency of iron, folic acid, zinc, vitamin B12
  • Acidic foods like citrus food
  • Mouth injuries like from sport accident, dentures or braces, dental work or forceful brushing

There can be other causes that can result in canker sores or make them worse.   

Home Remedies for Canker Sores

If you are suffering from a canker sore, there are many home remedies that you can try to get relief from irritation and pain, and promote healing. The following are some effective home remedies:

  • Consume cantaloupe, celery and carrot juices as they can give relief from the pain.
  • Echinacea, a herb, can be applied on the affected area as it promotes healing.
  • Try infusing chamomile and sage herbs in a bowl of water and using it as a mouthwash a few times a day.
  • Lysine, vitamin B and C can be orally taken at the first sign of canker sores and can assist in fast healing and prevent the sores from getting worse.
  • Consuming zinc lozenges can provide fast relief. However, it is best to avoid giving it to children as it might cause choking.
  • Gargling with salt water, deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) with warm water, or a mouthwash rinse can heal and prevent canker sores.
  • Make a mixture of baking soda 1 teaspoon and half cup of water. Gargle with this mixture a few times a day for pain relief.
  • Mix together Benadryl liquid and milk of magnesia and use it to rinse your mouth. Moreover, using a cotton swab, dab some milk of magnesia directly on the affected area.
  • Use a mouthwash and toothpaste without sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Ensure you gently brush your teeth and use soft bristles brush.
  • Get yourself checked for vitamin deficiency and consume the supplements your doctor prescribes.
  • Don’t consume spicy foods or acidic foods as they might aggravate the sores.
  • Try putting ice chips in your mouth as this can provide pain relief.
  • Apply canker sores medications and use mouthwashes to reduce inflammation and pain.

If the canker sores don’t heal after two weeks, it is best to consult a dentist or a doctor. Also consult a professional if the canker sores are unusually painful and/or large.  

Dr. Shalin Parikh, M.D. is a primary care provider offering skilled, compassionate care for patients in and around Irving and Coppell, TX.

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