Whether you're looking for a quick treatment to ease the pain from a canker sore, or you're looking for a way to prevent them from occurring, here is a list of 9 canker sore remedies to help you with relief and prevention:
1. Avoid Harsh or Abrasive Foods
Perhaps the most common cause of canker sores is due to eating abrasive foods that can cause small tears in the mouth or on the gums. For example, consuming cereals, potato chips, pretzels, nuts, tortilla chips or other sharp, crunchy food items may scratch and poke the interior of the mouth and create ideal breeding grounds for canker sores, or further irritate existing sores. To lessen the pain and annoyance of existing sores, avoiding harsh or acidic foods can help provide immediate relief. Foods such as tobacco, coffee, acidic citruses, or foods that are spicy or salty can further irritate the tender sore.
2. Change Your Chewing Habits
Of course, everyone loves a crunchy snack, like tortilla chips, every now and then. To avoid further irritation of existing sores, be sure to chew everything slowly and thoroughly. Often times, your saliva will be sufficient enough to soften sharp and crunchy foods. Taking small bites of foods, and not talking while chewing, can also help lessen the chances of oral lesions from the abrasive food.
3. Get a New Toothbrush
Be sure to consult your dentist on proper ways of brushing, as another major cause of canker sores are results from poor brushing technique. Sometimes, the wrong brushing angles or too much pressure during brushing may cause new lesions and irritate current sores on gums. Another option may be to consider swapping your current toothbrush to a soft bristle one to minimize irritation of the oral lining.
It would also be wise to practice good oral hygiene by brushing after every meal, using mouthwash and gentle toothpaste. By decreasing the amount of bacteria and debris in the mouth, faster recovery of existing canker sores can be ensured.
4. Increase Your Zinc, Folate and Vitamin B Intake
Studies have suggested that canker sore formation can be due to the body's deficiency of zinc, folate, and B vitamins. Specifically, individuals who have frequent canker sore outbreaks usually have lower levels of B vitamins in their systems. Fortunately, these nutrients can easily be obtained through supplements, as well as various fortified food products. Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, and whole grains can provide these nutrients, along with oysters, fish, dairy products and beans.
5. Practice a Balanced Lifestyle
Canker sores are often triggered by stress and may indicate a sign of weakened immune system. Maybe your body is telling you that you are not getting enough sleep, or that you haven't been eating a nutritionally balanced diet. Hence, it is important to seek methods of stress relief and relaxation techniques when possible, such as attending a yoga class, getting a massage or just have a great conversation with a good friend. Stretching and breathing exercises are also quick and effective methods to reduce stress.
To help combat the weakened immune system, a nutritionally balanced diet will definitely help. As a general rule of thumb, an increased intake of fresh vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains, contributes to a healthy diet. Vitamin C supplements, which boost the immune system, can also be taken when needed. Fermented foods, such as yogurt, may also provide beneficial bacteria that may aid in the prevention of canker sores.
6. Use Baking Soda
The use of baking soda has shown to help relieve irritation of existing canker sores. By mixing water and baking soda together, an easy, homemade mouthwash is created. Swishing the solution around the mouth several times a day can help alleviate pain from existing canker sores; be sure to spit out the solution afterwards and don't swallow it. You can also dab a paste of baking soda directly on the canker sore to provide immediate, temporary relief from the irritation.
7. Make Mouthwash Solutions
In addition to the baking soda rinsing solution above, there are other easy-to-make concoctions that can also provide pain relief from canker sores. Gurgling warm salt water has shown to have an anti-bacterial effect that can promote healing. Aloe juice, an anti-inflammatory agent, can help reduce inflammation. Sage and chamomile, when mixed with water, are also soothing mouthwash solutions that can help alleviate canker sore pain.
8. Avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfate, the foaming ingredient commonly found in most toothpaste and mouthwash, may be linked to canker sore formation on oral lesions as well as further irritation of existing canker sores. Hence, it may be time for you to throw away your old toothpaste and mouthwash in favor of a more mild formulation. Be sure to look out for this ingredient when shopping for your new oral products.
9. Apply Ice
The fastest, easiest way to provide relief to your canker sore would be to apply ice directly on the sore. Usually, slowly melting an ice chip or a cube of ice on the area of affect can provide immediate relief of pain and soreness.