While canker sores on the gums, tongue, inside cheeks, inner lips and soft palate can plague a person for numerous reasons, in many cases there are easy steps you can take to help reduce your outbreaks.
Change Your Toothpaste
Just about all toothpastes contain an ingredient called sodium laurel sulfate, also known as SLS. This is a foaming agent commonly found in, well, most things that foam, including toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. SLS is a rather harsh and drying ingredient and some people appear to be sensitive to it. While studies are somewhat conflicting with some saying there is no correlation, others say that avoiding SLS makes a difference. Some people find that when they switch to a non-SLS toothpaste they find that their canker sore outbreaks diminish. Perhaps the answer is that SLS affects some people but not others; in other words some people have a sensitivity to SLS and others do not. Try eliminating it and see.
SLS free Toothpastes
As mentioned, most major toothpaste brands contain SLS. However, in response to consumer demand, several companies have come out with SLS-free formulas. For example, Tom’s of Maine Clean and Gentle Care formula uses glycyrrhizin, derived from the licorice plant. It replaces SLS as a foaming agent and is also soothing to canker sores. Biotene toothpaste is another option. While it was created to treat dry mouth, it is SLS-free, which makes sense, since SLS can be drying. Rembrandt makes a special toothpaste formulated for canker sore sufferers called Rembrandt Gentle White Toothpaste. Other SLS-free toothpastes include PowerSmile Toothpaste by Jason.
Watch What You Eat
Eating sharp foods like tortilla chips and crackers can cause tiny tears inside our mouth and lead to the development of mouth sores. So if you experience frequent outbreaks, avoid foods that are hard or sharp and if you do eat them rinse your mouth as soon as possible before those tiny particles start to aggravate the inside of your mouth. Some people also have a sensitivity to acidic foods such as citrus, pineapple, strawberries, pineapple, coffee, as well as gluten. try avoiding these foods to see if it makes a difference.
Take Vitamin Supplements
There appears to be a correlation between deficiencies in B vitamins – in particular B-12 – as well as iron, zinc and folic acid and recurrent mouth ulcers. However, according to a recent study, taking a daily multi-vitamin didn’t seem to have much effect on lessening outbreaks for frequent mouth sore sufferers. This may be because the amount of B12 in most multi-vitamins (usually the recommended daily allowance) may not be enough to make a difference for those suffering from deficiencies or their body is not absorbing it properly. People with severe cases of mouth sores should think about getting screened for low levels of vitamin B12, folic acid and other nutrients and talk to their doctors about special supplementation.
Good Oral Hygiene Counts
It should go without saying that practicing good oral hygiene is important for preventing tooth decay and gingivitis. But it can also help lessen the chance of getting mouth ulcers.
- Be gentle when you brush so you don’t traumatize your gum area, which is a common area to get canker sores.
- Rinse your mouth after you eat.
Many canker sores start as mouth trauma of some kind, including biting the inside of cheek or tongue or a small food particle wedging somewhere and causing irritation. Rinsing your mouth will help flush away any small food particles that could stick somewhere and cause irritation. You can either rinse with water or, preferably, salt water. If you wish you can use mouthwashes such as Peroxyl which is made for canker sore sufferers, but salt water should be sufficient.
Chronic stress can hit our immune system hard, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting canker sores or other illnesses. Stress is always going to be with us in our daily lives, from taking care of kids, driving to work, on-the-job stress, managing the household, finances, etc., but there are things we can do to relax and rejuvenate. Try to carve out a little time each day for yourself, such as listening to music, doing yoga, walking, even 10 minutes of meditation. While it is impossible to eliminate stress from our lives we can help alleviate the effects.
If you try these tips you may well find you have fewer canker sores on your gums, tongue and other sensitive areas inside your mouth.