At some point in their lives, most people have experienced a painful and irritating sore on their gums. While most canker sores are natural occurrences and usually heal on their own within a week, there are a few tips out there for accelerating this process while reducing discomfort. Read on to discover 8 tried and tested ways to get rid of these pesky mouth ulcers.
What Is A Canker Sore?
To clarify, a canker sore is a tiny ulcer that develops inside the mouth. It may appear as white, gray, or red with edges in appearance and usually show up on the soft parts of the mouth as such as the inside of the cheek, lip, or on the tongue. The medical term for canker sores that you may come across is 'aphthous stomatitis or RAS', and they are ulcers that will reappear again and again over time.
Canker sores are not contagious and often heal on their on their own in about a week's time. Size-wise, they are usually less than 1 centimeter in diameter and can appear alone or among a group, in a cluster formation. A rarer and more serious version of RAS causes larger ulcers that can last for two more weeks, that may lead to scarring.
What Causes Canker Sores?
A variety of triggers can cause a canker sore to form. Some of those include irritation against your cheeks or mouth caused by braces, retainers, or other mouth hardware products. Other causes included hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle for women, when your diet lacks Vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid, or iron. Sensitivities to things such as chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, cheese, or nuts can lead to a higher proneness to developing canker sores. Toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulfate has also shown a tendency to develop canker sores.
8 Ways To Get Rid of Canker Sores
- Vitamin B12 Supplements
- Vitamins, especially B12 supports healthy natural brain and nervous system functions and has an important part to play in the creation of red blood cells. A study resolved that taking vitamin B12 supplement reduced the amount of pain from canker sores, and the overall number of outbreaks.
- Drinking Chamomile Tea with Honey
- This soothing natural remedy has been widely used throughout history for a variety of health reasons and has been reported to help reduce pain and inflammation to heal canker sores. Although we don't recommend using this in place of medication, honey does contain antiseptic properties and can actually be applied directly to the canker sore if you choose.
- Use A Mouthwash or Saltwater Rinse
- Mouthwashes are designed to rid your mouth of any bacteria or plaque-build-up that may have accumulated. Certain brands are effective in providing relief for the discomfort caused by the canker sore. We recommend using a mouthwash with antiseptic properties that help prevent infection and numb the mouth.
- Using Aloe Vera
- One of nature's ultimate gifts to us humans, and an ingredient that can be used in nearly every home remedy. Applying aloe vera directly to a canker sore can help sooth irritation and reduce pain and inflammation caused by it. Although there isn't a lot of scientific research proving the effectiveness of aloe for canker sores, it is considered safe for use.
- Avoiding Specific Foods
- We recommend avoiding spicy, salty, or acidic foods that can further irritate your canker sore and stop them from healing. Even hot beverages and food with rough edges like toast can lead to discomfort so choose your meals carefully.
When To Consult A Doctor
Canker sores go away without treatment and usually do not indicate any other serious health concern. A person should see a doctor if the canker sore persists for more than 3 weeks or if they're having difficulty swallowing or if they're ill.
If a canker sore happens regularly over a long period of time, it's smart to consult a medical professional just in case. It might be helpful to bring a record of when the canker sore developed and any possible triggers like stress, or spicy foods.
In rare cases, canker sores might be a sign of an underlying condition like gastrointestinal disease. If someone has any of the following symptoms, we recommend talking to a doctor.
- unexplained tiredness for more than 7 days
- a rash or sore on another part of the body
- a fever
- irritated eyes
- stomach pain
If canker sores become particularly red and painful, this could be a sign of infection.