12 Quick & Easy Remedies for Canker Sores

Canker sores are no fun. Even though canker sores are often hidden behind the gums, the pain and discomfort that canker sores cause make you unable to smile, talk, or eat and drink.

Are Canker Sores the Same Thing as Oral Herpes?

No, canker sore and oral (mouth) herpes are not the same condition. Oral herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus and is highly contagious. Canker sores have many different causes and are not contagious.

What are Some Canker Sore Remedies that Really Work?

Canker sores are no laughing matter. Even though they aren’t permanent and don’t signify a serious underlying disease, they wreak havoc on your social and physical comfort. Using one or more of these remedies for canker sores may help your sores heal faster or prevent outbreaks from happening in the first place.

The first remedy on our list is as easy as making a trip to the kitchen freezer…

1. Ice Chips

Ice chips are simply small bits of ice. They’re different than ice cubes, which are solid blocks of ice. Ice chips are what you would get if you took a sharp tool and just chipped away sections of an ice cube.

Why Ice Chips Work for Canker Sores

Ice chips work for canker sores by relieving pain. Basically, what you’re doing is numbing the area where the canker sore is. This numbing allows you to more comfortably talk, chew, and smile without incurring pain with each mouth movement. 

How to Use Ice Chips for Canker Sores

  1. Put a glass or mug into the freezer to chill.
  2. Place a handful of ice cubes into a blender.
  3. Run the blender on a low setting for 5-10 seconds.
  4. Pour the resulting ice cubs into the chilled glass or mug.
  5. “Drink” the ice chips little by little by allowing them to slowly dissolve in your mouth near the canker sore. 
  6. When the numbness wears off and your mouth becomes painful again, repeat these steps.

The following remedy for canker sores isn’t necessarily something you do; it’s something you should avoid doing…

2. Avoid Acidic Foods

If you’re prone to getting canker sores, then you can help avoid prolonging the outbreak by avoiding acidic foods. Examples of acidic foods are lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits.

Why Avoiding Acidic Foods is Great for Canker Sores

Acidic foods can aggravate your canker sores. Why? Because canker sores are open wounds in your mouth, so you don’t want to do anything to irritate that wound, as doing so can extend healing time. When you avoid acidic foods, you are basically leaving the wound to heal in peace.

How to Avoid Acidic Foods

  1. Make a list of all the acidic foods and beverages that you usually consume.
  2. Next to each item, write down possible substitutions that you can still enjoy.
  3. Whenever you crave one of the items on the list, consume the substitute instead.
  4. Be wary when dining out. Ask your waiter about acidic ingredients and either change your order or request that acidic ingredients be kept out of your meal.

The upcoming remedy is as simple as a toothbrush swap…

3. Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

Canker sores make your gums extremely tender. Using a soft bristle toothbrush will keep you from accidentally the grating against the canker sore, which will make it take longer to heal.

Why a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush is Preferable for Canker Sores

One of the worst things that you can ever do is to avoid brushing your teeth and gums altogether. However, if you use a medium or hard bristle toothbrush, you definitely run the risk of irritating your canker sores. A soft bristle toothbrush is preferable for canker sores because it allows you to brush your teeth and gums without irritating the canker sore. Then, if you do accidentally brush over the canker sore, you will do little or no damage.

How to Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush

  1. Locate a soft bristle toothbrush at stores that carry ordinary toothbrushes.
  2. Brush carefully around the canker sore using the soft-bristled toothbrush.
  3. Apply a little more pressure in areas where you don’t have a canker sore because the soft bristle toothbrush may not get the rest of your teeth clean enough.

The next remedy may leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth, although it can be quite effective…

4. Salt Water Rinse

Salt water is a natural canker sore remedy that is readily available to everyone and easy to use. This remedy for canker sores is a tried and true treatment that actually works! By using this method, you effectively speed up the healing process.

Why a Salt Water Rinse is Great for Canker Sores

Salt water is a natural drying agent (aka, it helps dry other substances out).

How does that work?

Well, applying salt results in the process of osmosis, whereby cells transfer moisture from one cell to another. When you rinse your mouth with a salt water solution, the salt dries the sore (as the water from the sore and surrounding area transfer to the salt) and heals it a lot faster.

What Kinds of Salt are Good for Canker Sores?

The beauty of this remedy is that you can use any kind of salt that you have available, including table salt, Himalayan salt, and Kosher salt.

How to Use a Salt Water Rinse on Canker Sores

  1. Get a clean glass.
  2. Pour a tablespoon of salt into the bottom of the glass.
  3. Fill the glass with 12 ounces of fresh water.
  4. Stir the salt water solution until the salt completely dissolves.
  5. Take large drink of the slat water solution and swish it around your mouth.
  6. Focus the salt water on the area of your mouth where the canker sore is.
  7. Hold the salt water solution in that area for a count of ten seconds.
  8. Spit out all the salt water solution. Do not swallow it.
  9. Repeat this process several times a day.

If you want to prevent canker sores from occurring in the future, the following solution may help you reduce the risk of future outbreaks…

5. Supplements

A variety of vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been shown to cause or trigger canker sores. This is good news, because it means that you can actively do something to prevent future breakouts.

Why Supplements are Great for Canker Sores

When you correct your vitamin or mineral deficiency, you restore the correct balance of these essential nutrients in your body. This means that your overall health will be better, so you can fend off the likes of canker sores to begin with.

What Vitamins and Minerals are Good for Canker Sores?

The vitamins and minerals related to preventing canker sores include:

  • Folic acid
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Calcium

How to Use Supplements for Canker Sores

  1. Determine which vitamin or mineral you are deficient in. A lab test will be able to give you the results you need.
  2. Purchase a high-quality supplement that you and your doctor feel good about.
  3. Take the supplement continually, according to the package instructions.

The next remedy can easily be found on the shelves of your local pharmacy…

6. Milk of Magnesia

Milk of Magnesia is a magnesium supplement that is FDA-approved.

Why Milk of Magnesia is Great for Canker Sores

Magnesium is an essential component in your body. Without it, your muscles would contract and you would lose all mobility, among other things. When you combine Milk of Magnesia with liquid Benadryl, you will have a rinse that is effective against canker sores. It sounds odd, but many say that it works.

Why is Milk of Magnesia + Benadryl so Effective?

It’s not really understood why the combination of Milk of Magnesia and liquid Benadryl is so good against canker sores. However, once you try it, you’ll quickly see that it does work. If you don’t have liquid Benadryl or you can’t find it, Milk of Magnesia alone is said to also work.

How to use Milk of Magnesia on Canker Sores

  1. In a small paper cup, combine an 1/8th of teaspoon of Milk of Magnesia with an equal part of liquid Benadryl.
  2. Stir thoroughly.
  3. Use a cotton swab to gently dab the solution on the canker sore.
  4. Repeat throughout the day and before retiring for the evening.

Next up is a remedy that’s even simpler to use…

7. Zinc Lozenges

Depending on the location of your canker sore, it may feel uncomfortable or even painful to suck on a lozenge. But if you can manage, make it a zinc lozenge rather than a candy lozenge.

Why?

Why Zinc Lozenges are Great for Canker Sores

Zinc is one of those minerals that has been proven to be effective against canker sores. Many people are low in zinc, even though it’s an essential mineral to the human body. So, when you suck on a zinc lozenge, you not only provide your body with an essential mineral, but you also give it exactly what it needs to combat your canker sores.

Where are Zinc Lozenges Available?

You can find zinc lozenges in corner drugstores and online.

How to Use Zinc Lozenges for Canker Sores

  1. Find a quality zinc lozenge brand that you can afford.
  2. Some zinc lozenges also contain vitamin C; this addition is fine.
  3. Suck on the zinc lozenges throughout the day, being careful not to exceed the maximum dosage.

The upcoming canker sore remedy involves a simple change to your teeth-cleaning routine…

8. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate-Free Toothpaste

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a chemical ingredient added to shampoos, household cleansing agents and toothpastes. In fact, the reason why toothpaste foams in your mouth is due to the presence of sodium lauryl sulfate. Sodium lauryl sulfate, however, is completely unnecessary. Your teeth will get just as clean when you use sodium lauryl sulfate-free toothpaste, which is recommended as a remedy for canker sores.

Why Sodium Lauryl Sulfate-Free Toothpaste is Great for Canker Sores

Sodium lauryl sulfate is an irritant that can (and will) make your canker sore outbreak last longer than is necessary. The actual chemical known as sodium lauryl sulfate can make that open wound on your gums or lips much worse. So when you use sodium lauryl sulfate-free toothpaste, you completely avoid this unnecessary irritant.

How to Use Sodium Lauryl Sulfate-Free Toothpaste for Canker Sores

  1. Search the shelves of your local drugstore for a sodium lauryl sulfate-free toothpaste.
  2. If you like, run your choice past your dentist to make sure they’re onboard with your decision.
  3. Uses the sodium lauryl sulfate-free toothpaste just as you would any other toothpaste, being sure not to swallow the toothpaste.

The next remedy is much more holistic and all-natural…

9. Sage and Chamomile

Sometimes natural remedies are the best, and this holds true when looking at remedies for canker sores.

Where are Sage and Chamomile Available?

You can actually grow sage and chamomile in your backyard or even on an apartment balcony, so you shouldn’t have any trouble acquiring them. If you don’t like the idea of growing herbs, you can also find sage and chamomile at any supermarket.

Why Sage and Chamomile are Great for Canker Sores

There are certain components in sage and chamomile that make them effective treatments for canker sores. Specifically, sage has significant antibacterial properties and chamomile has calming and anti-inflammatory properties.

How to Use Sage and Chamomile is for Canker Sores

  1. Grow natural sage and chamomile in pots in your house, backyard, or on your apartment balcony.
  2. Alternatively, purchase fresh sage and chamomile tea bags at a grocery store.
  3. Infuse hot water with the sage and chamomile for a minimum of four minutes.
  4. Strain the infusion.
  5. Maintain the infusion at room temperature and use as a mouth rinse. Do not swallow.
  6. Rinse at least three times a day with the sage and chamomile infusion.

Note that pregnant individuals should not use this method; ingesting chamomile tea has been linked to adverse effects during pregnancy, including miscarriage. The following remedy, though, should be easy enough for most people to use…

10. Topical Numbing Agents

There are a variety of topical numbing agents for canker sores available at your local drugstore. You don’t even need a prescription. These numbing agents work well at keeping you from feeling the intense pain from canker sores.

Why Topical Numbing Agents are Great for Canker Sores

When you have a canker sore, chances are you are in a lot of pain. This pain can keep you from having a normal conversation, smiling, laughing, kissing, and eating and drinking. The pain may even be so bad that you can’t focus on your work.

Topical numbing agents give you fast, albeit temporary, relief from the pain of canker sores. Anything that keeps you from feeling that pain is a winner in our book!

How to Use Topical Numbing Agents for Canker Sores

  1. Dry the area on top of and around the canker sore with a clean tissue.
  2. Place a small amount of the topical numbing agent on a clean cotton swab.
  3. Apply the topical numbing agent on the canker sore.
  4. Hold back your lips so the topical numbing agent has a chance to dry.
  5. Reapply as necessary when the topical numbing agent wears off.

Not a fan of this remedy? Don’t worry. Coming up are two tried-and-true herbal remedies…

11. Goldenseal

You may not have ever heard of goldenseal before now, but if you have a canker sore, you’ll be glad you know about it now. Goldenseal is a natural herb that is actually a flowering plant. It’s quite pretty in nature, but when you use it for your canker sores, you’ll grow to love it even more.

Why Goldenseal is Great for Canker Sores

Goldenseal contains certain compounds that make it an effective remedy for canker sores, helping them to heal much faster than they otherwise would. One such special compound is berberine, which has naturally-occurring antibiotic and antifungal properties. Both of these properties work to combat the canker sore wound.

How to Use Goldenseal for Canker Sores

  1. Find goldenseal in the natural supplements aisle of your grocery store.
  2. Empty one goldenseal capsule into a 12 ounce glass of water.
  3. Stir thoroughly to combine.
  4. Rinse your mouth with the solution, being careful to hold the rinse for at least 10 seconds against the area where your canker sore is.
  5. Spit out the solution when you are finished rinsing. Do not swallow.
  6. Repeat 4 – 6 times daily.

The final remedy on our list is also natural and effective…

12. Echinacea

Echinacea is a natural herb that has been extensively used in Ayurvedic medicine and homeopathic medicines. Millions of people around the world take Echinacea to make colds heal faster. Echinacea is also effective for canker sores.

Why Echinacea is Great for Canker Sores

Echinacea is known for boosting the immune system. As you may or may not know, your immune system is integral in the healing process of canker sores. The stronger your immune system, the faster your canker sores will heal.

To make matters even better, supplementing with Echinacea may even help keep canker sores from recurring. Wouldn’t that be nice?

How to Use Echinacea for Canker Sores

  1. Find a brand of Echinacea supplements that you trust. Most health food stores will carry various brands.
  2. Read the dosage instructions carefully.
  3. Take the Echinacea supplement as recommended on the label for as long as necessary to heal your canker sore.

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