Ouch! What’s that painful bump inside my mouth? If it’s small and shallow, located towards the bottom of your gums or the inside of your cheek or lip, you probably have a canker sore.
Although a canker sore is technically a form of ulcer, it’s usually nothing to be too concerned about—they’re mostly just annoying. This type of sore typically goes away on its own after a week or two. During that time, you may experience some mild to moderate pain while eating or speaking. It’s never fun when life’s simple pleasures become discomforts, but this temporary irritation and stinging is usually the extent of the sore’s impact on your life.
If you’re the type of person who likes to be proactive about minor health issues, there are ways to help speed up the process of healing a canker sore. Your options include both over-the-counter medicines and some time-tested home remedies.
One key component to healing is restoring the correct acidity, or pH level, inside the mouth. Canker sores can be caused by injury to your mouth, hormones, stress, illness, diseases, and allergic reactions to certain oral toothpaste, rinses, and certain acidic foods. Some of these trigger foods can be highly acidic beverages as well as spicy food, chocolate, some fruits and veggies like pineapples, apples, tomatoes, lemons, and strawberries. So, until your canker sore is healed, maybe skip the pineapple on your pizza or the hot sauce on your game-day wings.
Since canker sores are bacterial, as opposed to viral, preventing the spread of bacteria is another important component of treating a canker sore. Containing bacterial growth as much as possible can help the healing process along.
Over the Counter Canker Sore Remedies:
- Antiseptic mouth rinse
- Numbing oral care products (pastes, gels, liquids, and creams)
- Pain management medication such as Advil or Tylenol
At Home Canker Sore Remedies:
The key to healing a canker sore at home is using products that help restore the mouth’s pH levels and prevent the spread of bacteria. Some common household items naturally have these benefits and are safe to use when done correctly. Our personal favorites are the Saltwater Rinse and Hydrogen Peroxide methods.
This method is a tried-and-true classic for removing bacteria but is careful about getting salt directly on your sore as it may increase your irritation instead of helping you heal. Mix one teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water, swish and gargle in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit. Many people swear by this method, and others additionally recommend adding one or two teaspoons of baking soda to your saltwater rinse.
To treat a canker sore with Hydrogen Peroxide, mix one-part water with one part of Hydrogen Peroxide and apply it conservatively to the canker sore using a Q-Tip. You only need a little, and this solution is never to be swallowed. You can also swish this solution gently around in your mouth a few times a day and then spit it out.
Other at-home and over-the-counter remedies include:
- Coconut Oil
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Alum Powder
- Milk of Magnesia
- Zinc Lozenge
When Should I See a Professional?
Canker sores will generally resolve on their own given a week or two. However, you should consider a visit to your dentist if you experience:
- Extreme pain caused by the sore
- Sore spreads to your lips or other areas
- Multiple sores
- A sore that hasn’t healed after two weeks
- Developing new sores when the old ones haven’t healed
- The sore causes discomfort resulting in an inability to eat or drink
Laser Bacterial Reduction (LBR) Treatment
We also offer dental laser treatment at Mid Cities Dental. This treatment can permanently reverse canker sore formation by killing the virus and eliminating repeat sore formation.
Canker Sores Are Not Cold Sores
Though similar in name, we want to be sure a canker sore is not to be confused with a cold sore. Unlike canker sores, a cold sore develops on the outside of the mouth. Cold sores are small blisters filled with fluid and usually form in groups. Cold sores are contagious, while canker sores do not spread from person to person. Click this link to find out more about cold sores.