Canker Sore Treatments

Learn simple treatments for reducing pain and healing the common canker sore.

Canker Sores (Aphthous Ulcers) seem to pop up without much notice. Affecting the mouth and surrounding tissue and producing a mild to severe stinging pain, canker sores are most common in women.


Canker sores are painful ulcers that take shape inside the mouth. They are non-cancerous growths that can appear within minutes. There is some evidence to support the fact that canker sores may be contagious. Canker sores can appear anywhere inside the mouth, including on the tongue, on the inner cheeks, on gum tissue, in-between teeth, and inside the lips.


Small, painful ulcers on the lining of the mouth.

Gray covered, stinging sores on the inside of the lips, cheeks, or gums.

Small sores that tingle or burn.

Sores inside the mouth with a bright red border.

Multiple, irritating ulcers around the tongue or cheek area.


STRESS is the most common cause of canker sores. Physical or emotional stress can cause a minor outbreak of canker sores, in which 2-3 ulcers appear at one time.

INJURY to the mouth caused by ill-fitting dentures or braces.

SCARS inside the mouth tissue produced by hot beverages or dental work.

FOOD irritation, most commonly caused by acidic fruits, chocolate, vinegar, nuts, spices or salty foods.

VIRUS infection.

POOR dental hygiene.


The majority of canker sores heal within a two week period. Recurrent attacks are common in those with frequent infections, food allergies, braces and dentures, and poor oral hygiene.

RINSE your 3-times daily with a salt solution made from 1/2-teaspoon of salt and 6-oz. of warm water. Swish the water around in your mouth and puff out the cheeks for ten seconds, allowing the salt to penetrate the sore. Stinging sensations are common, as salt reaches the core of the canker sore.

ORAL ANESTHETICS, such as over-the-counter preparations for toothaches, will help to numb the pain and cleanse the sore.

DENTAL PASTES, which contain the ingredient "triamcinolone acetonide" can be applied at the first sign of canker sores. Many times, this will prevent ulcers from growing and spreading, and also reduce pain.

CHEW on gum-based aspirin solutions.


SOAK a cotton ball or cotton swab with hydrogen peroxide. Apply to canker sore 3-5 times daily to cleanse ulcers.

CUT a 1/8-sized slice from a garlic clove and press firmly against the ulcer. Garlic is a natural antibiotic, and will speed healing and reduce pain. Do this immediately upon waking and before going to bed. (Note: garlic will cause some minor pain or tingling during application. Once removed, pain will be eliminated.)

SIP fluids through a straw if they normally irritate the sore. Warm beverages and broths will provide temporary pain relief.

CONSUME pain-free foods such as milk, gelatin, ice cream, yogurt and custard.

AVOID hot, spicy foods, citrus fruits and beverages, and salty chips and nuts.

LEARN new techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety. Meditation, acupressure and acupuncture can enable you to cope with stress more easily.

USE an herbal mouthwash which won't injure sensitive mouth tissue.

CUT a small slice from a white potato and apply directly to irritated skin.


SEE your dentist if ill-fitting dental appliances appear to be the cause of your canker sores.

BRUSH your teeth regularly and floss twice daily to keep the mouth clean and free of irritating substances.

IF YOU fear your sores are caused by food irritation or allergies, see your family physician for an allergy test and stay away from troublesome foods.

AVOID intimate contact with those suffering canker sores.

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