Home remedy treatments / cures for canker sores (aphthous mouth ulcers).
Ways to get rid to canker sores:
There are a number of home remedy treatments that can be used to manage canker sores. On this page we discuss the use of:
Milk of magnesia / Benadryl ®, Tannin (tea bags), Alum (styptic pencils), Peroxide rinses, SLS-free oral home care products, and Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures (yogurt).
I) Home remedy treatments for canker sores.
A) Swish Milk of Magnesia / Benadryl ® Allergy liquid mixture.
1) As a first step, try swishing just plain "milk of magnesia" (Kaopectate®, Maalox® or a generic equivalent) over your canker sores.
Doing will create a coating over the surface of your ulcers that can help to protect them from irritation, such as that caused by hot, cold or spicy foods and beverages.
2) If you need more relief than the first step offers, another approach is to mix small amounts of milk of magnesia together with an equal amount of Benadryl ® Allergy liquid (diphenhydramine 12.5mg/5ml) (one teaspoonful or so of each).
Swish with this mixture (and then spit it out) as often as four to six times a day. Its benefit is two-fold. It will help to protect your canker sores from irritation (the milk of magnesia part) and minimize the amount of pain that the ulcers produce when stimulated (the Benadryl portion of the mixture acts as a numbing agent).
B) Treat the canker sores in your mouth with a tea bag.
Placing a wet tea bag over a canker sore can help provide ulcer pain relief. Use a "black tea" bag (the kind of tea most of us are most familiar with, such as that used to make iced tea). The tea's component that produces the pain-relieving effect is tannin (an astringent).
C) Nip canker sores in the bud with a styptic pencil.
Dabbing a styptic pencil on the area where you first feel a canker sore developing can help to stifle its formation. The earlier you get started the better. Styptic pencils contain the astringent alum (anhydrous aluminum sulfate).
D) Create a healthy healing environment.
Try mixing one tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a glass of water and then gently swishing it over your sores, and through out your mouth, a few times per day.
Doing so will help to cleanse and disinfect your mouth, your sores and, in general, create a more positive environment for both healing and the prevention of secondary infection. (3% hydrogen peroxide is commonly found in the dental section of stores. It typically comes in brown plastic bottles.)
E) Use SLS and alcohol-free products to help to minimize your problems with canker sores.
For some, using oral care products (i.e. toothpaste, mouthwash) that contains sodium lauryl sulfate ("SLS") or alcohol is a factor that tends to trigger their canker sore outbreaks (or exacerbate their severity). So to determine if this is true for you, it's easy enough to find and use alternative products whose formulations do not contain these agents.
F) Herbal remedies for canker sores.
Tea made from goldenseal root may help with treating canker sores. Swish and spit the tea or else dampen a small swatch of cloth with it and then place the cloth over the canker sore. Goldenseal is both an astringent and antiseptic.
The use of herbal sedatives (chickweed and violet) or anti-anxiety agents (rockrose) have been suggested as treatments for canker sores, by way of helping the sufferer to minimize their levels of stress. (Please remember that herbal remedies must be used appropriately. You should consult with your health care provider before initiating treatment.)
G) Eat yogurt that contains lactobacillus acidophilus.
Daily consumption of the bacteria lactobacillus acidophilus is thought to be beneficial in helping to prevent canker sore outbreaks. A good source of these organisms is yogurt. You must, however, make sure that the yogurt you choose specifically states that it does contain an active culture. Not all types or brands of yogurt do.
II) Common sense treatment ideas that can help you get rid of canker sores.
A) Take steps to minimize your potential for soft tissue trauma.
Since soft tissue trauma can trigger the formation of canker sores, you should try to minimize your mouth's potential for accidental injury.
Patients with broken teeth, rough or broken fillings, or teeth with excessively sharp edges should be treated by your dentist.
People who have dentures that have sharp or rough borders should have them repaired by their dentist. Orthodontic patients can cover pointed wires and brackets with wax. When you brush your teeth, be thorough yet gentle.
B) Monitor the types of foods which make up your diet.
For some people certain foods have the ability to trigger outbreaks of canker sores. You might consider keeping a "food diary" as a way of monitoring which foods seem to have this effect with you. Once you have a few candidates in mind try a series of "elimination diets," each one specifically omitting one or some of the foods you most suspect.
C) Maintain a healthy diet.
You can reduce the chance that your outbreaks of canker sores are associated with a nutritional deficiency by way of taking a multivitamin (make sure it includes vitamin B12). Since canker sores can impair one's ability to eat, make sure you do maintain an adequate fluid and nutritional intake. The use of a liquid dietary supplement such as Ensure or Sustacal might be indicated.
D) Avoid foods that might irritate your canker sores.
Avoid those foods and beverages that irritate your canker sores. For example, hard or crunchy foods, like potato chips, can easily abrade a canker sore's surface. Spicy or salty foods often elicit a stinging response from canker sores.
Consuming acidic drinks (such as tomato or orange juice) or alcoholic beverages can be a source of ulcer irritation. If so, using a straw or sipping these liquids slowly may help. Cold, non-acidic drinks often help to soothe canker sores.
E) Minimize your stress levels.
One way to get rid of canker sores is to never have any. And reducing your stress level can help. Obviously this is easier said than done, and for some people simply not possible, but it is something to strive for.
Even if you can't get rid of all of your stress, just keeping in mind that it can be a trigger for canker sore outbreaks can afford you an opportunity to be on the lookout for the initial signs of canker sore formation and therefore begin with a suitable treatment sooner rather than later.