While there is no permanent cure, there are ways to get rid of canker sores fairly quickly. You have a lot of options to conquer those nasty, painful sores. Also known as aphthous ulcers, these small, round, red-rimmed ulcers covered with a white film can erupt inside your mouth including inside the cheeks and lips as well as the tongue and gums and other oral surfaces. Some of the best ways to relieve the sores, especially for difficult areas like the tongue, tonsils and soft palate, are mouth rinses.
Some oral rinses contain ingredients to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth, thereby helping heal sores. Others may provide some pain relief and help reduce the inflammation. It is usually best to start out with home remedies to see if they work before you move to the heavy-duty prescriptions rinses that you need to get through your doctor. Here is a rundown of some of the best mouth rinses for treating your oral ulcers.
Home Made Mouth Rinses
Baking Soda and Water Solution
Bicarbonate of soda helps heal the mouth by restoring the proper pH balance of the mouth by increasing alkalinity and reducing acidity and reducing oral bacterial. Combine four ounces of water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Gargle with the mixture for about one minute before spitting it out. You can repeat up to four times per day.
Salt Water Rinse
There is varying information on the effectiveness of salt water rinses. Some people do benefit while others don’t see much improvement. However, it is certainly worth a try as a first line treatment. Like baking soda, salt helps restore the alkalinity of the mouth and reduce bacteria. You can make a simple solution with a teaspoon of salt in 8 oz of warm water. Swirl it around your mouth for about a minute then spit it out.
Milk of Magnesia and Benadryl
This home remedy is recommended by a number of dentists. Combine an ounce of Milk of Magnesia or Maalox with approx. 1 tsp Benadryl Liquid Allergy Medicine and swirl it around your mouth. Do not swallow any of it. The milk of magnesia is soothing and coats the ulcer while the Benadryl, which contains Diphenhydramine, acts as an anti-inflammatory to reduce pain and swelling. You can do this several times a day, but no more than about 4 times a day.
Listerine and Hydrogen Peroxide
Listerine is one of the only OTC mouthwashes clinically shown to be antimicrobial, which means it is anti-bacterial, and it may be beneficial in reducing the pain and inflammation in canker sore sufferers. Hydrogen peroxide is also antimicrobial. Mix equal amounts and gargle with it several times a day without swallowing the solution.
Biotene Oral Rinse is an excellent product for both relieving dry mouth as well as canker sores. It is gentle, alcohol and SLS-free and contains the same enzymes as found in your mouth It helps kill bacteria without drying out or irritating your mouth. Some people find it helps prevent canker sores (less dryness and irritation) with regular use.
Prescription Mouth Rinses
Chlorhexidine gluconate (also known by the name brand Peridex) is a germicidal oral rinse that has been shown in studies to be effective in helping mouth ulcer sufferers. It is often used to treat gingivitis as well as mouth sores. This is a special mouth wash that must be prescribed by your doctor or dentist. It helps reduce the pain and inflammation caused my mouth ulcers. The typical way to use it is by rinsing your mouth with the Chlorhexidine gluconate two to three times a day for at least 30 seconds. You should not swallow the mouthwash.
Some caveats: Chlorhexidine gluconate tastes kind of nasty and may leave a bad taste in your mouth . It may stain your teeth or dentures as well as the inside of your mouth and tongue. Therefore it is best used in more severe cases of recurring aphthous ulcers.
A mouth rinse with dexamethasone suspension (meaning a liquid) may also be prescribed by your doctor or dentist to use as an oral rinse. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid and may be helpful in reducing oral ulcer pain and inflammation. You should swish it around your mouth and then spit it out. This drug is a steroid, so while it does help with inflammation, it is one you want to use only if other treatments have failed.
Canker sores are typically self-limited and heal in a week to two weeks. If your mouth sores are still there 14 or more days later, or if you get them constantly, you should see your health care professional. You doctor may want to run some tests to see if you have an underlying condition such as a food allergy or intolerance, for example a gluten intolerance, or perhaps a vitamin deficiency or an immune system issue.
Sources: American Dental Association