Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an amazing, inexpensive household staple with many uses. Aside from being a common ingredient in baked goods, it can be used for cleaning just about anything, including your teeth, it is a natural deodorizer and a popular treatment for rashes, bites, stings and other skin irritations. It’s also a low cost, topical canker sore remedy that just about everyone already has in their cupboard.
Sodium bicarbonate helps maintain the body’s pH balance and neutralizes acids, which is why it is commonly used as a antacid. And that is why it is so helpful with treating mouth sores. The mouth can get quite acidic, and ingesting acidic foods such as orange juice or tomatoes can make matters worse and even cause oral lesions in some people. When the mouth is overly acidic it can further irritate mouth ulcers and escalate the pain to sometimes a nearly unbearable level. The properties in baking soda will neutralize the acid, re-balance the pH level and allow the healing process to begin.
Baking Soda Paste or Mouth Rinse
As soon as you feel a canker sore (aphthous ulcer) start to develop, begin treating it right away. There are two ways. You can make a paste with baking soda and water and apply it to the ulcer with a cotton swab. Try to leave the paste in place until it dissolves on its own – avoid eating and drinking for about half an hour to an hour after application. The paste may burn at first, especially if you have a large, inflamed lesion, but that initial sting should subside quickly and most people feel significant relief within 24 hours. Reapply the paste every three hours until your lesion goes away. In addition to soothing the pain, the paste forms a protective seal to allow the sore to begin healing.
You can also make a mouth rinse. Combine about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 cup water and use it as a mouth rinse. Gargle with it for a minute or so and then spit it out. Baking soda has anti-inflammatory properties, and it may help reduce swelling. By gargling several times a day with this simple rinse it may help reduce your inflammation. Do not swallow. Because ingesting baking soda may cause belching, gas and stomach cramps in the short term and with long-term use may cause high blood pressure, you should take care not to swallow it.
Anti-fungal and Antibacterial
Baking soda also possesses anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. It can prevent your canker sores from becoming infected and also keeps your breath fresh and your teeth clean. Many people like to use baking soda to keep their mouths fresh and it even helps whiten teeth without harmful abrasion to the enamel.
If you suffer from frequent aphthous ulcers, you may want to try baking soda as a preventative. Make a baking soda mouth wash and rinse your mouth with it daily to help keep your mouth in a proper pH balance. Some people also like to use a commercial baking soda toothpaste as added protection, however many of them contain sodium laurel sulfate, which can actually contribute to canker sores. SLS is an irritant and dries out the oral mucosa. If you want to use baking soda toothpaste, you may be better off using plain old baking soda and water on your toothbrush.
There has been some discussion about aluminum in baking soda and some misinformation. Many people confuse baking soda with baking powder. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and that is what you will see on the label. Baking powder on the other hand is a combination of sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, and quite often also contains sodium aluminum. This is an ingredient it would be wise to avoid because it has been linked to Alzheimer’s. However, you can find aluminum-free baking powder. Remember that you want to be using the baking soda for your mouth sores, not baking powder.
Healing for Pennies
Baking soda is an excellent healer, and a bargain to boot. For mere pennies you can treat your mouth sore at home instead of going to the drugstore and buying a commercial canker sore remedy that can cost upward of $10.