Canker sores can be painful. And make eating or talking painful, too. They typically disappear on their own, but you may not want to wait for that.
But if your canker sore is in an awkward place, or doesn’t seem to heal, there are things you can do. They may not be miracle cures. However, they may alleviate some of the pain associated with it.
Keep reading to find out your options. At home, remedies may help ease pain and irritation. And some may also help speed the healing process up.
What Is a Canker Sore?
A canker sore is a small, shallow lesion that develops in your mouth. They may be on the soft tissue of your mouth or at the base of your gums. The formal name for them is aphthous ulcers, but unless you’re in the medical profession, they are usually referred to by the common name.
Canker sores are not cold sores. And as such, they aren’t contagious. Nor do they happen on the surface of your lips. If that’s where your sore is, you may have something else.
Most canker sores have a similar appearance. They are round or oval-shaped with a white or yellowish center. Additionally, they typically have a red, inflamed border around it.
The most common places to get canker sores are on your soft palate, inside your lips or cheeks, or at the base of your gums. A burning or tingling sensation may herald a sore a day or two before you actually see one appear.
There are 3 types of canker sores. Check out the symptoms below to figure out which one you may have:
Minor Canker Sores – Most Common
- Usually small-sized
- Oval-shaped with red along the edges
- Healing time is 1 to 2 weeks without scarring
Major Canker Sores – Less Common
- Maybe very painful
- Larger and deeper than the minor types
- Round-shaped with irregular edges if it gets large
- Takes as long as 6 weeks to heal and may leave a lot of scarring
Herpetiform Canker Sores – Uncommon, but may develop later in life
- Not caused by the herpes virus
- Occur in clusters of sores that may merge into a larger one
- Pinpoint size
- Has irregular edges
- Healing time is 1 to 2 weeks without scarring
Experts haven’t pinpointed the exact cause of canker sores. But there are a variety of factors that may help contribute to getting them. Some triggers may include:
- Minor mouth injury such as rough brushing, biting the cheek, or sports accident
- Sodium lauryl sulfate in mouth rinses and toothpaste
- Food sensitivities to foods such as coffee, strawberries, nuts, eggs, spicy or acidic foods
- Lacking certain nutrients like iron, zinc, folate, or vitamin B12
- Allergic response to bacteria in the mouth
- Hormonal shifts
- Emotional stress
- The same bacteria that causes peptic ulcers, Helicobacter pylori
As mentioned before, canker sores usually go away on their own. But if you don’t want to wait, or it doesn’t seem to be going away fast enough, here are a few options for you to try:
Baking Soda or Salt
If you prefer to treat canker sore with natural remedy, you can try a mouth rinse. Salt or baking soda works wonders to relieve pain and speed up the healing process.
To make a rinse, simply dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda or salt into half a cup of warm water. Swish around your mouth making sure to coat the sore in the rinse. Do this for about 15 to 30 seconds and then spit out. You can use this rinse as often as needed throughout the day.
In addition, you can also try honey to reduce the pain, size, and redness of the sore. Honey is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. So it’s the perfect pairing for a mouth sore. It may help prevent possible secondary infections, too.
To use honey, simply apply it directly to the sore 4 times a day.
Coconut oil is good for many things. One of those things is healing and pain relief for canker sores. This naturally anti-inflammatory oil can be used directly on the sore. Apply generously and reapply the oil several times a day until the sore goes away.
Milk of Magnesia
If you have milk of magnesia in your cupboard, it is also a good option to use on canker sores. Milk of magnesia contains magnesium hydroxide which works as a laxative and an acid neutralizer. But if you apply it directly onto your sores, it coats it to give you a little pain and irritation relief. It may also change the pH balance in your mouth to prevent sores from thriving. Use a cotton swab and dab a little milk of magnesia directly onto the sore for up to 3 times a day.
In addition, if you have chamomile on hand, you can also use it on your canker sores. German chamomile has known antiseptic and anti-inflammatory abilities. So use a wet chamomile tea bag directly on your sore. Or you can try rinsing your mouth with the freshly brewed tea. Use either method 3 or 4 times a day until the sore heals.
Finally, you can try liquid Echinacea to help heal canker sores and even prevent them from forming. To use this home remedy, mix equal parts liquid Echinacea and warm water. Swish the mixture around your mouth for a couple of minutes. Afterwards, you can either spit it out or swallow it.
Additionally, you can also use freshly brewed Echinacea tea as a mouth rinse. You can repeat either treatment up to 3 times a day.
Canker sores can be annoying and make it difficult to talk or enjoy your favorite food. But you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are things you can do from the comfort of your own home. Try a few remedies out to find the right one for you.