12 Ways To Get Rid Of Canker Sores

Canker sores are pesky, circular lesions that develop inside your mouth. Unlike cold sores, they’re neither contagious nor caused by a virus.  

While science has yet to identify the culprit for canker sores, there are risk factors that make an individual prone to having the condition. Teens and young adults are likely to develop canker sores, as well as women undergoing hormonal changes, like menstruation. Emotionally stressed individuals, as well those suffering from immune system disruptions, are vulnerable, too. 

That being said, it seems that anyone may be prone to canker sores at least once in their lives. Unfortunately, for those who’ve had it once, canker sores may make a comeback sooner or later.  

Minor cases of canker sores are no cause for alarm and usually disappear within a week or two.  The more persistent, although rarer instances of major canker sores, may need medical attention.  

Canker Sore Treatments

Most cases of canker sores clear on their own without needing any medical intervention. However, the pain and discomfort may be unbearable, especially when eating, drinking, talking, or brushing your teeth.  

The more serious cases of canker sores last longer. Hence, proper care and treatment should be exercised. Getting rid of canker sores are easier through the following: 

  •  Mouthwashes 

A more serious case of sores may require you to visit your healthcare professional. As pain and inflammation are the hallmark symptoms of the condition, your physician or dentist may prescribe you a mouth rinse laden with steroids and/or pain relievers. 

  • Dexamethasone reduces pain and inflammation 
  • Diphenhydramine suspension, which is typically used for allergies, may also be used because of its anesthetic properties
  • Tetracycline antibiotic mouth rinses may be used to hasten to heal and alleviate pain. This is not recommended for pregnant women and children, though.  

These mouth rinses should be swished in the mouth for at least 30 seconds. Spit all the liquid out and never swallow the rinse. 

  • Topical Pain Relievers 

Your oral healthcare provider may recommend medicated solutions, from gels, ointments, creams, pastes, and liquids, to be placed on the sore(s). Some of the topical pain relievers are sold over-the-counter. If you want quick relief from your canker sores while waiting for your doctor’s appointment, run to the nearest drug store to snag one. Typically, these topical products have the following active ingredients:   

  • Benzocaine
  • Fluocinonide 
  • Lidocaine
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Canker sore topical gels, creams, and ointments offer three functions; relieve pain, minimize inflammation, and prevent infection. In fact, topical patches are available in select drug stores to provide relief and protect the sore from getting bigger or getting infected.  

  • Oral medications

In cases topical medications and mouth rinses fail to provide relief, a patient may be prescribed steroid pills or oral medications that are not intended for the condition. Take note that steroid medications may have serious side effects, so only take them with prescription, and after other remedies have been unsuccessful in providing comfort. 

For instance, your doctor or dentist may advise you to take intestinal ulcer and gout medications to treat your canker sores. In some cases, where an infection is also noted in a patient, antiviral drugs may be prescribed. 

Taking lozenges with zinc will ease the pain and may also boost your immune system.  

  • Topical Antibiotics

In more serious cases of canker sores, where the lesions are larger and deeper, your doctor may ask you to apply topical antibiotics to prevent or arrest the development of an oral infection. Major canker sores may take up to six weeks to heal, and during this period, your wounds may have been subjected to various bacterial risks. 

Canker sores have a whitish, yellowish, or grayish center, with a red ring. If the lesion discharges pus, or if there’s too much redness in the wound, you may have developed an infection. A fever is also a telltale sign that your canker sore has been infected.    

  • Cauterization 

Cauterization may be a dangerous proposition for canker sore treatment, but not if you approach your dentist or doctor to perform the procedure. By definition, this procedure involves the use of an instrument and chemical compound such as silver nitrate to burn or destroy the tissue.   

A topical solution may be used to chemically cauterize canker sores, accelerating the healing period and cutting it by half. Silver nitrate is also commonly used to cauterize lesions, but they’re more targeted for pain relief.  

Home remedies 

At home, there are many things that you can do to relieve pain and inflammation, as well as to hasten the healing process and prevent infection.  

  • Make your own natural mouthwash: Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda and a pinch or two of salt, then allow it to dissolve in half a cup of warm water.  After eating or drinking, swish your naturally made mixture to keep your mouth clean and reduce pain. 
  • Dab some milk of magnesia: As a good supplement for hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes, soak a piece of cotton in some milk of magnesia and dab on the sore(s). Wait for up to 30 minutes before consuming any food. 
  • Eat cold product or apply ice to the sores: Having canker sores are one good reason to eat popsicles or ice cream. The cold temperature numbs the pain and eases inflammation. If you’d rather stay healthy, take some ice chips and allow them to melt over the sores in your mouth.   
  • Gargle with apple cider vinegar: Mix equal parts of water and apple cider vinegar to create a natural antibacterial mouthwash. Apart from promoting the healing process, this mixture can help prevent the proliferation of bacteria. 
  • Stop smoking: Cigarette smoking may exacerbate your canker sores or make you more prone to developing one. Apart from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting rid of smoking for goodwill also prevent you from easily having a canker sore.  
  • Make an alum paste: Culled from potassium aluminum sulfate, alum powder may be mixed with water to create an alum paste. Apply the paste onto the sore(s) to dry it out and make it heal quickly.
  • Eat yogurt: Specific gastrointestinal conditions and the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, make one more susceptible to canker sores. Consuming live probiotic cultures, including lactobacillus, could help remove the said bacteria, according to this study. Being abundant with probiotics, a canker sore sufferer can take at least one cup of yogurt on a daily basis to help hasten the healing process.   

Overall, maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the main elements of canker sore treatment. So, remember to keep your mouth clean, brush your teeth, and floss daily. 

Final Thoughts 

Canker sores are typically not considered a serious condition. As such, you can treat minor cases of canker sores on your own with natural remedies, a few of which are discussed in this article. 

However, persistent canker sores would need to be seen by a medical professional. Such major cases of canker sores can be an underlying sign of a more serious health problem.