Canker Sore Treatment

Canker Sore Over-the-Counter Gels and Liquids

There are many over-the-counter canker sore treatments available at your local drugstore that can help take the sting out of your mouth sore. You can get them in a variety of formulas, from pastes and gels to liquids.

The majority of these products contain numbing ingredients such an benzocaine to act as an anesthetic, but many also contain ingredients that form a protective film over the sore. These products will provide temporary relief for up to a few hours and can be re-applied several times per day. It is important to note that these are pain relievers, they won’t speed the healing of your ulcers, although having a protective coating over them can help prevent irritation.


GUM Canker-X Canker & Mouth Sore Treatment – Contains Polyvinylpyrrolidone, which creates a micro-thin, invisible protective seal over the sore, in essence it “glues it” shut to protect it from irritants. It also contains Sodium Hyaluronate which hydrates the sore and  aloe vera ,which soothes it. This product can be re-applied every few hours.

Zilactin-B is a gel designed for mouth sores. It contains 10% benzocaine in a special gel that forms a film over the sore to seal in the medicine and protect from irritants. It acts like a bandage to make eating and drinking easier and will last for up to six hours.

Orajel Ultra Mouth Sore Medicine contains Benzocaine 15% and Menthol 2% to relieve pain by numbing the area. There are other ingredients that form a protective shield over the ulcer that makes it easier to eat or drink.

 Anbesol Maximum Strength Oral Anesthetic Gel – contains 20% benzocaine, which is the strongest dose you can get without a prescription. This is a numbing gel, not a healing agent. It comes in a tube and you will want to apply it with a swab or directly from the tube to your sore, otherwise you will numb your finger as well as your mouth ulcer. It will relieve the pain for a few hours.


Liquids can be a little hard to apply because they tend to get everywhere. The best means of application is generally with a cotton swab.

Canker-Rid is an all-natural product made with propolis from honeybees. Propolis is a resinous substance gathered by bees and is an excellent source of bioflavanoids and amino acids. It offers protection against infection in addition to pain relief and it spurs the healing process. It burns a little when first applied but that goes away in about a minute. The nice thing about this product is that it seems to reduce inflammation and swelling and help heal sores, rather than just providing relief from discomfort.

Kanka Mouth Pain Liquid also forms a protective coating and is applied with the provided applicator. It contains a numbing agent to temporarily relieve pain, but it stings on initial application. It wears off farily quickly and can be applied up to four times per day. Users say it tastes rather nasty.

Finafta Liquid for Cold Sores contains Ethyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid and Benzocaine (5%), all intended to relieve pain and act as a topical anesthetic in a water base and can be used for both oral ulcers and cold sores. It is applied with the included applicator and should remain in place for one minute then spit out.


Orabase Maximum Strength Oral Pain Reliever contains 20% Benzocaine to temporarily numb the ulcer and reduce pain. The paste can be dabbed on the ulcer with the finger or a Q-tip and should remain on for a minute, then spit out.

Application Suggestions

Application instructions vary depending on the product. In general, when applying a gel, paste or liquid, you can apply the product directly to the mouth ulcer to cover the whole sore, either with a cotton swab or your finger. It helps it you first dry the area first so the product will stick better. You shouldn’t touch the sore with your tongue for a couple of minutes after applying the treatment so it can dry and form a protective barrier.

You should also avoid eating or drinking for the next hour to avoid washing the remedy away. Some products require that you spit out the product after it has been on your ulcer for several minutes.

With exception of Canker-Rid, these products are mainly pain relievers and will help make you feel more comfortable and make eating and drinking less painful. However, they won’t necessarily promote healing. Canker-Rid, which contains bee propolis, is the one all-natural canker sore treatment that can help your mouth sore feel better as well as aid in the healing process.


All of these products provide temporarily relief only, and must be re-applied multiple times per day. Products containing benzocaine should not be used for more than seven days or applied more than four times per day.

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