There are a variety of home remedies for canker sores that you can try to help alleviate the pain and speed healing. First a word about what canker sores are. They are small, white or yellow, shallow ulcers found inside the mouth, particularly the inside lip, inside cheek, tongue, gum and even the roof of the mouth. While generally not serious they can cause major discomfort and can make eating and drinking painful. Fortunately they are self-limiting and tend to go away in about 7-10 days, but in the meantime, you need some relief. You will find some of these remedies to be very effective in providing temporary relief and may in fact help your canker sores heal faster.
- Homemade Mouth Rinse – Try easing the pain with a homemade mouthwash. Combine two ounces of hydrogen peroxide with two ounces of water or a mixture of four ounces of water with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Rinse your mouth four times a day then spit it out (do not swallow!).
- Water and Hydrogen Peroxide – Combine equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide and with cotton swab apply directly to the lesion. Next dab a little Milk of Magnesia or Kaopectate to help coat and soothe the area.
- Milk of Magnesia and Benadryl – This sounds like a rather bizarre combination, but a number of dentists recommend this home remedy for canker sores and many people find it works: Mix equal part of Milk of Magnesia or Kaopectate and Benadryl Childrens Allergy Liquid Medicine. Apply the mixture to your sore with a cotton swab. The Milk of Magnesia or Kaopectate will coat the inside of the mouth and the Benadryl will act as a topical anesthetic and antihistamine and help reduce the inflammation. It is very important that you do not swallow this mix.
- Wet Black Tea Bag – Some people swear by putting wet black tea bags on canker sores. Keep it there for as long as you can, up to an hour. Black tea contains tannin, which may help relieve pain.
- Cayenne, which contains capsaicin, may help temporarily de-sensitize the nerves in the area.
- Aloe Vera Gel – this healing plant can work wonders and is a popular home remedy for canker sores. You can buy fresh aloe vera gel on line, in health food stores or if you have one in your yard, break off a leaf from a plant and dab a little on the canker sore 3-4 times a day. While the taste is bitter, it is soothing and may help in the healing process.
- Colloidal Silver – The liquid or spray can be found in most natural foods/health stores. It can be used to treat a number of things. Spray it directly on the canker sore several times a day.
- Gly-oxide Antiseptic Oral Cleanser – This over-the-counter product contains hydrogen peroxide which kills bacteria and glycerin which coats and soothes the ulcer. You can apply it directly on sores twice a day.
- Vitamin E – Using a pin poke a hole in a vitamin E capsule and apply it to the ulcer. It will help coat it and aid in healing.
- L-Lysine - This is an inexpensive amino acid that you can find in many drugstores as well as health food stores. On an empty stomach, take 4,000mg per day for four days, then reduce to 500mg three times a day.
- Alum – Other people have found relief with alum crystals, which can be found in the spice section at the grocery store. Dip a wet cotton swab in the alum and apply it directly to the sore on your tongue. Let it stay there for about 5 minutes before rinsing your mouth. Warning: it will sting at first, and it tastes bitter, but many people find that it relieves the pain, reduces the inflammation and swelling and makes their canker sores heal faster.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar is a folk remedy that can be very helpful. Try soaking a cotton swab in ACV then apply it to the canker sore. Yes, it will sting, but soon you may find your sore no longer hurts as much. Many people find significant relief in about 12 hours. A caveat: some canker sores are caused by bacteria, which the vinegar will kill, but if your sore is caused by acidity, the vinegar won’t help.
- Avoid toothpastes with sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), which is a rather harsh foaming ingredient found in most toothpastes. Biotene and Rembrandt Gentle White Toothpaste are both SLS-free toothpastes.
- While you have a canker sore, avoid spicy or acidic foods such as tomatoes and orange juice and foods with sharp edges such as potato or tortilla chips and nuts. These may aggravate the ulcer, not to mention giving you a jolt of pain.
Give one or more of these home remedies for canker sores a try and you are sure to find some relief. While in most cases, mouth ulcers are a minor irritation, if your sore does not go away in a couple of weeks or gets worse, it may be time to see your doctor in case you have an underlying condition.