Remedies for canker sore


6 Ways to Get Rid of Canker Sores Naturally

Canker sores can appear at any time and often for no apparent reason. Although over-the-counter treatments are available, home remedies may also reduce the pain and irritation and promote healing. Here are some suggestions on how to get rid of canker sores naturally.

Remember to consult your dentist if you have concerns about your oral health, as home treatments do not replace professional care.

1. Salt Water

A salt water rinse may help dry out canker sores. Dissolve one teaspoon of regular household salt in half a cup of warm water and swirl the solution around your mouth for 15 to 30 seconds before spitting it out. You can continue to rinse with salt water every few hours if needed.

2. Clove Oil

Canker sores can be painful, and clove oil has been known to provide relief for mouth pain. A study published in Contemporary Clinical Dentistry reports that an herbal dental gel made primarily of clove oil successfully manages pain when applied to the irritated part of the mouth. You can buy a bottle of clove oil at your local pharmacy.

3. Zinc Supplements

Deficiencies of iron, folic acid, vitamin B12 or zinc can cause canker sores. Taking zinc supplements may reduce the frequency of your canker sores and boost your immune system. When taking zinc supplements, always follow the supplier’s directions.

4. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera may reduce the pain caused by canker sores and speed up the healing process. Apply gel from the plant directly to the canker sore or drink aloe vera juice. Aloe vera may also treat other oral ailments, like chapped lips and cold sores.

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is antimicrobial and fights against some of the harmful strains of bacteria in the mouth. Swishing a tablespoon of coconut, sesame or other edible oil in the mouth is an ancient practice known as oil pulling. A study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine finds that swishing coconut oil daily reduces plaque and that the oil’s lauric acid helps with sores.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for a variety of ailments. Its ability to destroy bacteria may help clear up your canker sore. However, the vinegar may sting when it comes in contact with the sore, so try another remedy if you’re experiencing pain. Mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into one cup of water and rinse with the solution for 30 seconds to one minute. After spitting, rinse your mouth with plain water to prevent the vinegar from damaging your tooth enamel. Only rinse with apple cider vinegar once a day.

When you’re looking for how to get rid of canker sores naturally, you’ll see there are a variety of treatments available. What works for one person may not work for another, so don’t be afraid to try different natural remedies. If your sore doesn’t heal or it worsens, see your dentist or physician for professional care.

Home Remedies and Treatments for Canker Sores

While most canker sores will eventually go away without treatment, the following remedies can provide quick relief and help lesions disappear sooner.

Aloe vera gel and chamomile compresses are some of the home remedies that might offer canker sore relief. iStock;

Don’t be fooled by a canker sore’s small size. These lesions can be painful and irritating. The good news is that many sores are short-lived, going away on their own within one to two weeks. (1) A canker sore doesn’t usually require a visit to your doctor and if a sore only causes minor pain, you might forgo treatment all together.

But when a canker sore sparks a nagging ache, or if the sore makes it difficult to talk or eat, you need fast relief and prompt healing. Read on to learn about 10 home remedies for canker sores:

1. Apply Over-the-Counter (OTC) Topical Gels to Reduce Irritation

Canker sores respond positively to OTC topical creams designed specifically for oral lesions. These products include active ingredients — such as benzocaine and lidocaine — which reduce inflammation and promote healing. (2)

Apply a cream or paste directly to the canker sore. This provides a protective layer over the sore until it heals, so that eating and drinking don’t cause further irritation.

2. Rinse With Antiseptic Mouthwashes to Clean the Area and Relieve Pain

Some palliative mouth rinses, like Rincinol, or numbing mouth rinses with lidocaine can be helpful, too, says Samantha Rawdin, DMD, a prosthodontist based in New York City.

OTC mouthwashes with antiseptic properties reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth, which also assists with healing and prevents a canker sore from worsening. (3,4)

For a severe canker sore, your doctor may prescribe a steroid mouthwash containing the ingredient dexamethasone. (2)

3. Make Your Own Salt or Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

Rinsing your mouth with ingredients in your medicine cabinet can also relieve pain and irritation caused by a canker sore.

Take hydrogen peroxide, for example. It can minimize the amount of bacteria in your mouth. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with one part water. Gargle the solution and then rinse out your mouth with water — don’t swallow hydrogen peroxide. (5)

Another option is a salt rinse. Dissolve 1 teaspoon (tsp) of salt (or baking soda) in ½ cup of warm water. Gargle and then rinse out your mouth with water. Again, don’t swallow the salt solution.

A salt mixture helps dry out a canker sore so that it’ll heal faster. Repeat the rinse several times a day. (2)

4. Improve Your Oral Hygiene Habits and Check the Ingredients in Products

Be gentle when brushing and flossing. Being too rough or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can cause further irritation, prolonging or worsening a canker sore. Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush instead. (2)

Bear in mind that an ingredient in some mouthwashes and toothpastes — sodium lauryl sulfate — has been associated with repeated canker sores. Avoiding these products could reduce your number of outbreaks. (1)

Also, if your oral hygiene habits have been lacking lately, making improvements may also reduce bacteria in your mouth and speed healing. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. See your dentist for cleanings every six months or twice a year. (3)

5. Take Vitamin Supplements for Nutritional Deficiencies

While the exact cause of canker sores is unknown, these ulcers are seen in people with nutritional deficiencies, including low levels of zinc, folic acid, and iron. (6)

“Optimizing nutrition is the first defense against recurrent canker sores,” says Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, RD, CDE, who is based in New York City. “Ensuring a well-balanced diet or adequate vitamin and supplementation if you’re a vegan or avoiding certain food groups is paramount in keeping your immune system healthy and functioning at its best.”

Frequent canker sores may also indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. If so, other possible signs of this deficiency include: (7)

  • Numbness or a tingling sensation in your hands, legs, or feet
  • Balance problems
  • Anemia
  • Swollen tongue
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased cognitive function (memory problems, brain fog, trouble concentrating)

Malkoff-Cohen also warns that a deficiency of B12 and iron prohibits proper regeneration of the mucosal lining of the cheeks and mouth, potentially triggering canker sores in some people.

A blood test can confirm or rule out nutritional deficiencies. If testing confirms an underlying problem, your doctor will discuss ways to boost your level.

Options include supplementation or increasing consumption of foods fortified with a particular nutrient or vitamin. This might include eating more fish, eggs, dairy products, poultry, and meat if you have B12 deficiency. (7)

6. Avoid Acidic, Spicy, or Salty Trigger Foods

Continuing to consume trigger foods can slow the healing process and exacerbate a canker sore. Avoid salty foods, acidic foods and drinks, and spicy foods until the sore heals, and then limit your intake of these to avoid repeated lesions. You should also limit hard, abrasive foods — crackers or toasted bread, for example — which can further irritate a canker sore. (3,8)

7. Suck on Ice to Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Pain and inflammation can make it difficult to eat, drink, or talk. Along with oral medication, take ibuprofen to reduce inflammation or suck on ice chips to temporarily numb the area around the sore. (2)

8. Use Aloe Vera Gel to Soothe the Area

Due to the anti-inflammatory and immunostimulating effect of aloe vera, the plant is often used to treat wounds and reduce pain.

According to a clinical trial study published in the July–August 2012 issue of Dental Research Journal, which included 40 patients, two percent aloe vera gel may decrease the frequency and occurrence of canker sores, and quickly reduce the size of these lesions. (9)

9. Try a Calming Chamomile Tea Compress

Chamomile is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and a mild astringent. So it’s often used to treat a variety of conditions, such as ulcers, eczema, arthritis pain, hemorrhoids, the common cold, and infections. It’s also believed that chamomile may help treat canker sores, although more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of this remedy. (10)

If you choose to experiment with this herb for medicinal purposes, soak a chamomile tea bag in water and then apply it directly to the mouth sore. Or rinse your mouth with chamomile tea a few times a day.

10. Coat the Canker Sore With Milk of Magnesium

This medication is commonly used to relieve constipation, but it may also prove effective for canker sores, helping lesions heal faster, explains Jennifer Silver, DDS, a dentist based in Calgary, British Columbia. Apply a small amount directly to the lesion a few times a day. The medication will coat the canker sore, reducing irritation and pain. (3)

What to Do if the Canker Sore Isn’t Healing

Plenty of at-home remedies can help relieve pain and promote healing of canker sores, but if a sore doesn’t improve within two weeks or becomes worse, see a doctor. Depending on the size and the depth of a lesion, you may need a prescription mouthwash or an oral steroid.

Do you suffer from painful and persistent oral ulcers? Try these natural home remedies for canker sores today.

If you suffer from canker sores, you know how painful they can be. Repeated canker sores can hinder your quality of life. They make talking, eating and swallowing difficult. It can be surprising just how much such a small sore can hurt!

Canker sores can be caused by a variety of issues. In this article, we detail the most common causes of canker sores. We follow with a short list of general advice for those who suffer from this problem. Finally, I’ll show you eleven natural home remedies for canker sores. These remedies are a way for you to use natural dentistry. They can really help ease your pain.

What is a canker sore?

Canker sores are also called aphthous ulcer. Similar to peptic ulcers that occur in the stomach, they are painful blisters of the mouth. Often presenting on the inside of lips, side of the tongue. You may also get them on inside of cheeks and on the gums. When you see them, they are usually white or yellow in the center, surrounded by a ring of red, inflamed soft tissue.

Patients who suffer from canker sores usually report stressful situations in their home or work life. Women tend to suffer from canker sores more than men do. They may also be hereditary. If a family member has canker sores, you are more likely to have them as well.

What causes canker sores?

Canker sores have many causes. These can include:

  • Stress – our emotional state can really affect our health. When you have too much stress in your life, can weaken your immune system. Digestive imbalance can lead to acid reflux which can relate to canker sores.
  • Minor injuries – Your gums and lips are easily bruised or cut. When you are brushing your teeth, you need to be careful. Aggressive teeth brushing can lead to canker sores. So too can a sports injury or a bite to the inside of your cheek while sleeping or eating.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – This chemical additive to toothpastes and mouthwash has been linked to canker sores. If you suffer from canker sores you should remove toothpastes containing SLS.
  • Food sensitivities and allergies – If you have a sensitivity or allergy to food, this can upset the immune response in the mouth. The most common culprits are strawberries, eggs, chocolate, nuts, coffee, and cheese.
  • Vitamin deficiencies – If you are lacking certain vitamins and minerals in your daily diet, it can show up in your mouth. This is especially the case for folic acid, iron and vitamin B-12.
  • Hormonal changes – Many women suffer from an increase in canker sores before and during menstruation.

General home advice for canker sores

When you have a canker sore in your mouth, it can be really painful and irritating. Every time you eat or talk, you will feel pain. You can make your canker sore worse in a few ways. As a general guide:

  • Do not poke at the canker sore with your tongue
  • Limit spicy and acidic foods
  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
  • Eat nutritious foods
  • Practice calming exercises and meditate to limit stress
  • Take vitamins on a regular basis
  • Take care when brushing your teeth and eating

11 natural home remedies for canker sores

If you are currently suffering from a painful canker sore, these eleven household remedies may provide relief.

1) Swish with Salt water

Salt water is a natural disinfectant. It can be a great natural remedy for canker sores. At the first sign of a canker sore, swish with salt water. This will relieve your pain and speed up the healing process.

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sea salt or another natural salt in half a cup of warm water. Swish around in your mouth for 30 seconds. Spit, and then rinse your mouth with fresh water.

2) Add Fenugreek leaves

Fenugreek is a delicious ingredient in many curries. However, its leaves have many healing benefits. Research shows that fenugreek may have applications in natural dentistry.

Fenugreek can boost your immune system. It is filled with many vitamins and minerals. This includes riboflavin, zinc iron, vitamin C, calcium, carotene, phosphorous and more.

To get fenugreek into your diet, you can add the leaves to food. For a more direct application to canker sores, place 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds into one cup of cold water. Swish this mixture around your mouth.

3) Eat Basil

Basil is delicious in sauces, in salads, and on pizza. It is used all over the world in different recipes. But did you know it is also a valuable ingredient for natural dentistry?

Studies have shown that basil has anti-microbial properties. It may also prevent infections and help to calm canker sores.

To get more basil into your diet, add the fresh leaves to your meals. Chew on the leaves in between meals. You can also soak the leaves in hot water and use this as a mouth wash.

4) Use a Dash of Cayenne

When you have a canker sore, you probably want to avoid spicy foods. After all – spicy foods can really irritate canker sores and make them even more painful! But properties in certain spices like cayenne pepper may help soothe canker sores.

Cayenne pepper is full of a chemical called capsaicin. Capsaicin makes chili and cayenne spicy. It can also inhibit substance P, a chemical in the body that causes inflammation. Studies also show that it can inhibit bacteria growth. Capsaicin may be a great home remedy for canker sores.

To use cayenne for a canker sore remedy, add some cayenne and add water to make a paste. Use a cotton swab to apply this paste to your canker sore. Apply this 2 to 3 times a day. This will help with pain relief and healing.

5) Rinse with Baking Soda

Baking soda is an alkaline base. It can neutralize the acids in your mouth that can irritate your canker sore. Baking soda will also kill bacteria in your mouth. This will help your canker sore heal more quickly.

Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in half a cup of warm water. Swish and rinse your mouth with this mixture. To finish, rinse with fresh water.

6) Eat Cultured Probiotic Yogurt

Probiotic yogurt is filled with good bacteria. Beneficial bacteria replenish your oral flora and may help treat canker sores. The friendly bacteria in probiotic yogurt will improve your stomach and intestinal health. This, in turn, improves the health of your mouth. The cool nature of yogurt can also help to calm and soothe the pain.

Eat cultured, probiotic yogurt on a daily basis to help with canker sores.

7) Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is often touted for its health benefits. It’s a rich source of acetic acid. This acid may help to curb bad bacteria while maintaining healthy oral flora. Balancing the oral microbiome can help cure your canker sores.

In order to get more apple cider vinegar into your diet, include it in your salad dressings or in cooking. You can also make a homemade mouthwash. Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and swish in your mouth.

Afterward, you can swallow this mix. The vinegar is good for the digestive system as well as your mouth. Make sure to dilute apple cider vinegar, as the low pH can cause acid erosion.

8) Take Zinc Supplements

If you suffer from canker sores on a regular basis, you might have a zinc deficiency. Taking zinc supplements can give you some relief. Taking zinc supplements has been shown to reduce canker sores by between 50 to 100 percent.

Taking a high-quality zinc lozenge twice per day can heal your canker sores. Zinc lozenges can also help prevent them in the first place. Speak to your doctor or dentist before starting a regime of zinc lozenges.

9) Drink Chamomile Tea

Chamomile is good for more than just a pre-bedtime tea. It contains different daisy-like plants, and they can help relax you and aid healthy digestion. It has been shown to contain chemical compounds that have antiseptic abilities.

Chamomile may have soothing results for canker sores. It can also help speed up healing time. You can try chamomile by drinking warm tea or placing a chamomile tea back on the sore.

10) Use Sage

Sage is a delicious herb often added to gravies, soups, and sauces. It is a part of the mint family. Many natural dentistry remedies include sage. Sage has anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties that may help the oral flora. It may help to balance the immune system and help to heal canker sores.

Mix a handful or fresh sage or 2 teaspoons of dried sage with a cup of water. Swish and rinse your mouth for 60 seconds.

11) Try Clove Oil

Clove oil is a valuable natural remedy for canker sores. The active ingredient is eugenol, which acts as a painkiller. Dentists have long used clove oil to help their patients. Clove oil can be applied directly to canker sores for relief. You can also make a mouth rinse from clove oil.

First, swish your mouth with salt water. Then apply a half teaspoon of olive oil to a cotton ball. Top this off with 4 or 5 drops of clove oil. Apply the cotton ball directly to your canker sore for up to 10 minutes. This will give you pain relief and numb the area.

How did these natural dentistry remedies work for you? Please leave your comments below.

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Nine ways to treat canker sores

Canker sores should heal without treatment. However, there are ways to relieve pain, speed up healing, and prevent infection.

The options below can help improve quality of life for a person with these painful ulcers. However, canker sores often come back, and no one therapy works for every case.

Options that may help include:

1. Using an OTC gel or patch

Share on PinterestAn OTC gel or patch may help treat canker sores.

A person can apply OTC medication directly to the canker sore, usually in the form of a gel or a paste. This prevents the ulcer from irritation caused by spicy or acidic food, as well as by touching.

A person can also place specialized patches or bandages over the canker sore. These stick to the inside of the mouth and protect the ulcer from irritation.

2. Using a mouth rinse

Rinsing the mouth with an OTC rinse can help a person keep the area clean and provide relief from pain or discomfort.

A person should choose a mouth rinse with antiseptic properties. This can help prevent infection and numb painful sensations inside of the mouth.

3. Using a salt rinse

People may choose to use a natural alternative, such as a salt solution, to promote healing.

Rinsing the mouth with a salt solution should not replace using medicated mouthwash if the symptoms have become uncomfortable. However, it may help keep the mouth clean.

Here, learn more about gargling with saltwater.

4. Practicing dental hygiene with a soft brush

Looking after the mouth and being careful not to damage the canker sores can speed up the healing process.

Using a soft toothbrush can help prevent irritating canker sores. Maintaining good oral hygiene by keeping the teeth and gums clean can prevent ulcers from developing an infection.

5. Taking vitamin B-12 supplements

Vitamin B-12 is an essential vitamin that supports brain and nervous system function. It also plays a vital role in creating red blood cells.

A small study from 2015 found that taking a vitamin B-12 supplement significantly reduced canker sore pain.

6. Drinking chamomile tea with honey

Historically, people have used chamomile and honey for a variety of health reasons. Some anecdotal evidence supports their use in helping people reduce pain and inflammation due to canker sores.

At the moment, there is limited scientific evidence of their benefits in treating ulcers, so people should not use them in place of medication. However, if these remedies improve symptoms on an individual basis, they are safe to continue using.

Chamomile may have anti-inflammatory properties. A person can use chamomile as a canker sore remedy by brewing a strong chamomile tea and using it to rinse the mouth after cooling. They can also soak a chamomile tea bag in warm water and apply this directly to the ulcer.

Honey may also have antiseptic properties. A person can apply honey directly to a canker sore, and they may wish to combine it with chamomile in a tea.

7. Avoiding certain foods

A person with canker sores should avoid eating very spicy, salty, or acidic foods. These may irritate the ulcers and slow healing.

Hot drinks and food with rough edges, such as a piece of toast, might also cause discomfort.

8. Using aloe vera

Applying aloe vera gel directly to the canker sore may help soothe irritation, as well as reduce pain and inflammation.

Although there is limited scientific evidence on the benefits of aloe vera for canker sores, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health consider it a safe option.

9. Numbing the mouth

People can suck on ice chips or apply them to a canker sore to relieve some of the pain and discomfort, as the cold will numb the sensation.

However, always melt the surface of an ice cube slightly before applying them directly to ulcers.

7 Best Home Remedies For Mouth Ulcers


  1. Ulcers take place due to deficiencies like iron and vitamin deficiencies
  2. Add turmeric to honey for healing ulcers faster
  3. Drink two glasses of orange juice every day till the ulcer heals

Ouch! Ulcers hurt so bad. Most people experience ulcers at some point in their lives and they can be so annoying. Mouth ulcers are usually sores that appear on the lips, cheeks and the floor of the mouth. Though harmless, ulcers can be extremely painful and may even kill one’s desire to eat. These ulcers can happen due to constipation, hormonal fluctuations and extreme acidity. Sometimes ulcers may appear due to deficiencies like iron deficiency, vitamin B and C deficiency too. Luckily, ulcers can be treated easily and with some simple home remedies too. So look no further than your kitchen and use our set of remedies to end ulcers!

Here is a list of home remedies for mouth ulcers

1. Honey

Thanks to the antibacterial qualities of honey, it can act as a very effective remedy for ulcers. It provides moisture and prevents it from becoming dry. All you need to do is take some raw honey and apply it on the ulcers. You can also add some turmeric to it to speed up the healing process. Apply it every few hours for relief.

Photo Credit: iStock

2. Coconut oil

Coconut oil helps in reducing the discomfort caused due to the ulcer by reducing the swelling. Anti-inflammatory compounds in coconut oil help in doing so. All you need to do is dab a cotton ball in some virgin coconut oil and apply it on your ulcers. Repeat this after every few hours. You can also apply coconut oil to ulcers and sleep with it.

Photo Credit: iStock

3. Apple cider vinegar

Though the pungent taste and the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar can hurt you, this one is a powerful home remedy for ulcers. Just mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with half a cup of water and swish the solution in your mouth for a few minutes. Do this every morning and night till the ulcer heals.
Also read: 5 Health Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar

Photo Credit: iStock

4. Salt water

This one is probably the most recommended home remedy for ulcers. Gargle with salt water is that one remedy your elders would always come to you with and it is very effective too. Water has a soothing effect on the ulcer and salt helps in healing it. Just take a glass of lukewarm water and add a tablespoon of salt to it. Gargle thoroughly with this solution and repeat after a few hours.

Photo Credit: iStock

5. Toothpaste

Antimicrobial properties of toothpaste helps in killing the infection that is causing the ulcer. Also, toothpaste has a cooling effect on the ulcer which prevents it from burning and causing discomfort. This one might sting a bit later so apply some aloe vera gel for relief. Take some toothpaste on a Q-tip and apply it on the ulcer. Leave it on for some time and then rinse your mouth. Repeat this till the ulcer disappears.

Photo Credit: iStock

6. Fortified orange juice

The key purpose of this one is providing the body with vitamin C. As it has been stated before, ulcers are the result of Vitamin C deficiency; this one can help meet the required needs. Drink two glasses of orange juice every day till the ulcer heals.
Also read: Fruit Juice Or Whole Fruit, Which One Is A Healthier Option?

Photo Credit: iStock

7. Garlic

One of the most commonly used home remedies; garlic can help you fight ulcers as well. All you need to do is rub one garlic clove on the ulcer very gently for a minute or two. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after 30 minutes. Repeat this till the ulcer vanishes.

Photo Credit: iStock


Like an accidental dry-shampoo overdose or a bad first date, canker sores can strike anyone at anytime, without warning. So it’s important to have an arsenal of home remedies for canker sores at your disposal—that way, you know exactly how to deal with your mouth ulcer so it doesn’t slow down your enjoyment of vegan Rice Krispie treats.

But before we get to that part, it helps to have a general understanding of what a canker sore actually is. In short, a canker sore is a shallow ulcer that forms in your mouth. It’s usually small, with a white or yellow center surrounded by a red halo. This nasty little pain-in-the-mouth can stake out real estate in a variety of locations, including the gums, tongue, soft palate, lips, or cheeks.

So how do you know you’re dealing with a canker sore? Unlike cold sores, which are caused by a virus and pop up on visible parts on your face, canker sores almost always take up residence in the hidden nooks and crannies inside your mouth. You may experience a stinging, burning, or tingling sensation prior to when the canker sore makes its debut. The most troublesome symptom, and the one most likely to send you on the hunt for a remedy, is the pain you will likely experience at the site of canker sore once it’s erupted, especially when talking or eating.

Are you ready for the good news? Canker sores are not contagious, which means you can’t catch one from someone else who is suffering. Plus, most cases are “mild” (though they may not feel that way when you’re in the midst of canker-sore hell) and will heal without intervention within a week or two. A canker sore that lasts longer or is accompanied by a fever or swollen lymph nodes is cause to get in touch with your doc for some extra reinforcements.

What causes canker sores in the first place?

Unfortunately, pinpointing the precise cause of your canker sore is tricky business. Some folks seem more prone to repeat attacks, and often their family members are in the same, sad boat, which suggests a genetic component.

According to the Mayo Clinic, any given episode of canker sores can be caused by a number of different factors, including:

  • A minor injury in your mouth
  • Food sensitivities (chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese, and acidic or spicy foods may be to blame)
  • Dental products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Bacteria
  • Medications
  • Medical conditions
  • Shifting hormone levels
  • Emotional stress

Though you’re unlikely to get a handle on each and every one of these potential triggers, it’s helpful to know what they are—especially if you find that you are frequently afflicted.

Photo: Getty Images/Emilija Manevska

Are there any home remedies for canker sores?

Even if you make your best effort to limit your Brie intake or avoid toothpaste that contains SLS, it’s darn near impossible to wipe out stress entirely or prevent your hormone levels from shifting throughout your monthly cycle. Luckily, you don’t have to dip into your savings account to purchase a prescription fix—there are a variety of natural salves that you can use to soothe a canker sore.

1. Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a simple ingredient that can wipe out bacteria. Jennifer Palmer, the owner and founder of Nourishing Journey Wellness Center, recommends this one: “I like to use a cotton swab soaked in hydrogen peroxide and dab it on the sore a few times per day,” she says. (She’s also a fan of using tea tree essential oil for this purpose.)

2. Milk of magnesia

Though magnesium hydroxide (more commonly known as milk of magnesia) is typically used to treat constipation, it’s also an antacid that’s believed to help neutralize pH. In theory, this would create a less hospitable environment for your canker sore, although this hypothesis hasn’t been rigorously tested. You can try dabbing milk of magnesia on your canker sore up to three times a day—just make sure you rinse it off after it has a few seconds to soak in.

3. Salt-water or baking-soda rinse

Rinses are among the most natural and simple of all remedies, which may be one of the reasons they’re so popular in wellness circles. Salt-water rinses may help to lessen inflammation, while swishing an alkaline baking-soda mixture may be another way to neutralize your mouth’s pH. You can use each of these rinses several times each day—just swish them around your mouth for a minute or so and spit them out. To prepare a salt-water rinse, stir a quarter- to a half-teaspoon of table salt or sea salt into a cup of warm or hot water until it is completely dissolved. For a baking-soda cocktail, swap out the salt for baking soda. Be sure to prepare a fresh batch each time you’re ready to rinse.

4. DGL or sage mouthwashes

Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) and sage are both thought to help reduce inflammation. To make DGL mouthwash, dissolve the powder from a DGL supplement capsule in a cup of warm water. You can also contact your dentist to ask about a DGL mouth patch that may provide an even quicker route to canker sore relief. For sage mouthwash, steep 1 to 2 tablespoons of sage leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes before straining and cooling the mouthwash.

5. Lozenges, vitamins, and herbs

While there’s no research backing up their effectiveness in treating canker sores, zinc lozenges, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, and lysine are anecdotally said to aid in recovery. You may have also heard that echinacea can be used topically for wounds. But again, although some people swear by it, not much research has been done on its effectiveness in this realm.

6. Probiotics

It may be impossible to know how you got your canker sore in the first place. But if you suspect it may be related to the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria that sometimes cause stomach ulcers (and has been linked to canker sores, too), then probiotics may help. Look for a supplement with the Lactobacillus johnsonii strain, which has been shown to inhibit H. pylori growth in a few small human and animal studies. Probiotics may also improve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), which has been linked to the incidence of canker sores.

7. Honey

For those who want to tap into the healing powers of honey, research has shown that it may reduce the pain and size of canker sores when applied a few times each day. (Just make sure your honey is as pure and unprocessed as possible to reap the max benefits.)

Foods to avoid when you have a canker sore

In addition to any of these natural home remedies for canker sores, you may wish to work in a few strategies to reduce discomfort while you wait for the pain to subside. Palmer recommends ditching sugar for the foreseeable future. (At least until your canker sore is history). “If I eat anything with sugar while I have a canker sore, it immediately feels worse,” she says.

Physicians at the Mayo Clinic suggest you avoid foods and drinks that are abrasive, acidic, or spicy. They also say to melt ice chips over your sores, which numbs the ache. Oh, and as hard as it may be, try not to run your tongue over the canker sore, which may further irritate it. You should also take care to brush your teeth and rinse your mouth gently, to keep from poking and angering the bear.

How to prevent canker sores from forming

In order to reduce the recurrence of canker sores, you should try to determine and then avoid any foods to which you are sensitive. You should also practice good oral hygiene so that you regularly remove any irritants that might trigger a sore.

Stock up on soft-bristle toothbrushes so that you’re less likely to scrape your mouth, and ask your dentist about orthodontic waxes to smooth out the sharp edges of dental appliances, such as braces or retainers, which may break skin on your inner cheeks or gums. Finally, if you haven’t already developed relaxation rituals to help keep your stress levels in check, this is an excellent excuse to do so.

There’s nothing enjoyable about these irksome ulcers, but you’re far from powerless against them. ‘Till next time, canker sore—don’t let the salt-water rinse hit you on the way out.

Let’s settle this: Do you really need fluoride to keep your teeth healthy? Dentists weigh in here. Plus, check out these natural ways to whiten your teeth, no bleach trays required.

I’ve been plagued with canker sores since I was approximately 7 years old, and I’ve cursed every single one of them. They make eating painful and embarrassing—chomping down on one can make you see stars, forcing you to chew gingerly with your mouth half open—and I sometimes get awful Cheerio-sized sores that ache so much they wake me up at night. Luckily they’re not contagious, but that’s really the only positive thing about them.

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Not to be confused with cold sores, canker sores are open wounds that form in the soft tissue inside the mouth, usually on the inner lips and cheeks, gums, and tongue. (Cold sores, on the other hand, are blisters on the lips and outer edges of the mouth caused by the herpes simplex virus.) The ulcers are typically white and round, with an angry red ring around the outer edge. They usually take one to two (very looong) weeks to heal, depending on the size, though I’ve had some stick around for closer to three. It’s not known for sure what causes them, but they’re generally thought to be triggered by minor injuries like biting your cheek, irritants in the mouth, stress, nutritional deficiencies, and food sensitivities and allergies, says Bill Crutchfield, D.D.S., an orthodontist in Northern Virginia. But that’s not all—the U.S. National Library of Medicine adds that we can also blame hormonal changes, family history, a weak immune system, and having two X chromosomes, as women are more likely to get them than men.

RELATED: I Tried Oil Pulling For A Month and This Is What Happened

With such a laundry list of potential causes, it’s hard to zero-in on what exactly is behind your personal mouth hell. For me it seems to be a combination of stress, hormones, and minor abrasions (having braces was a rough couple of years). I’ve tried just about every drugstore gel designed to coat and numb canker sores over the years, and let me tell you that most of them taste terrible and make your teeth feel gunky. Recently, I’ve become more suspicious of the ingredients, too, so I’ve turned to natural home remedies to relieve the pain and help them heal. Here are some dentist-recommended methods that have worked for me.

8 Ways to Get Rid of Canker Sores

These 8 home remedies can help cure your canker sores. Plus, keep reading for our top way to prevent canker sores.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide may help reduce and relieve canker sores. Simply mix one part peroxide with one part water, then dab on any affected areas several times a day or swish around in your mouth for as long as possible.


The same chamomile tea that soothes a sour stomach can also calm canker sores. Allow the tea to cool, and then swish it around your mouth for a minute. Chamomile contains chamazulene, a natural anti-inflammatory agent, which will help accelerate the healing process.

See Also: What Is a Cold Sore?


Hold a damp tea bag over the area. Tea bags are filled with healthful tannins. Cool the tea bag for even more relief.


Dabbing unpasteurized honey on canker or cold sores four times a day will help them disappear fast, thanks to the enzymes it contains.

See Also: Nutrition Tips for Preventing Cold Sores

Suck on Slippery Elm

Native Americans have been using slippery elm for centuries to treat mouth, throat, stomach, and digestive ailments. Today you can buy slippery elm lozenges, available at health-food stores, which will provide lasting relief for canker sore pain. They’re also effective for coughs and sore throats too!

Baking Soda

A natural antacid, baking soda is a great canker sore remedy. Dissolve ½ teaspoon baking soda in a half cup of warm water, then swish it around your mouth. Baking soda is alkaline, so it will neutralize the acids in your mouth and relieve pain. A simple salt water rinse will help heal the sore as well.


If you need on-the-go relief, a chewable antacid tablet is an ideal alternative to a baking soda or salt rinse. Just as antacids neutralize the acids in your stomach, so too will they temporarily neutralize the pain of a canker sore.

Vitamin E

To help heal a canker sore more quickly, dab a little vitamin E oil on the spot several times a day. The easiest way to do this is to break open a vitamin E capsule and apply it. The oil will coat the painful area and protect it.

Prevention, Prevention, Prevention

Your mouth is filled with bacteria, both good and bad. To make sure the good bacteria are on the winning team, eat a half-cup of plain yogurt every day. It can help prevent painful canker sores from ever forming in the first place.

For everyday tips and lifehacks, tune in to the Who Knew podcast on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. The suggestions offered here are for informational purposes only. The author and publisher do not accept liability for damages arising from the use, attempted use, misuse, or application of any of the suggestions included on this website. Image courtesy of .

We all have different things that drive us crazy, but I think we can all agree that canker sores are a Universal Human Annoyance. Canker sores are just the WORST! How can something so small cause so much pain and suffering? It’s truly mind-boggling. But that doesn’t mean we can’t put up a fight against them!

In fact, the whole purpose of today’s post is to arm you with the knowledge you need to get rid of canker sores. By the end of this post, you’ll know more about what canker sores are, what causes them, and you’ll have 7 different natural canker sore remedies up your sleeve! These treatments will help both get rid of canker sores and make them less painful.

While no one can prevent canker sores from happening, with the help of this post, you can make them more bearable and help them heal faster!

Canker sores are small, shallow ulcers that develop on the soft tissues of the mouth. They are not contagious, and usually heal on their own in a week or so.

Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not caused by the herpes virus. If you have a lesion in your mouth that is blistering, has bubbles of clear fluid, or is crusted over, it could be a herpes sore. Check with your doctor to be sure.

The exact cause of canker sores is not well understood, but there are a few things that may trigger them:

  • Biting the inside of your mouth
  • Stress
  • Overzealous brushing
  • Eating spicy or acidic foods

Canker sores usually heal on their own in a week or so, but there are a few ways to minimize the pain and discomfort until it heals. First, avoid eating things that could aggravate a canker sore, including foods that are sharp, crunchy, spicy, or acidic. And second, try out some of the healing and pain-reducing treatments below!

7 Ways To Get Rid Of A Canker Sore

1. Salt Water Rinse

Rinsing out your mouth with salt water is a classic home remedy for mouth sores of any kind. It is a bit painful, but the salt helps to dry out the sore and promote healing.

To do a salt water rinse, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into 1/2 cup of water water. Swish the solution in your mouth for 15-30 seconds, then spit. Repeat a few times per day as needed until the canker sore disappears.

2. Baking Soda Rinse

Baking soda helps restore pH balance to your mouth and reduce inflammation, which can help heal canker sores. To do a baking soda rinse, dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup of water. Swish the solution in your mouth for 15-30 seconds, then spit. Repeat a few times per day as needed.

3. Yogurt

Scientists suspect there is a link between canker sores and H. pylori, a common human pathogen and one of the most frequent infections experienced worldwide. A 2014 review suggests that the probiotic Lactobacillus can be used to help eliminate H. pylori in adults.

And what is one of the most common and widely available sources of Lactobacillus? Good ol’ live culture yogurt! (Most live culture yogurts are made using a Lactobacillus starter culture.) So in theory, eating live culture yogurt daily may help get rid of those pesky canker sores!

Related: This Amazing Crockpot Yogurt Is Surprisingly Easy To Make

4. Honey

Findings from a 2014 study suggest that honey can be a safe and effective way to reduce canker sore pain, size, and redness. Apply honey to a canker sore four times per day for about a week, or until the sore is healed. (And make sure to use raw honey if you can, as pasteurized honey loses some of its beneficial healing properties during processing.)

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic, so it may help heal and prevent canker sores caused by bacteria. To use it, add equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and water to a small dish. Dip a cotton ball or swab into the diluted peroxide mixture and apply it to the canker sore. Repeat a few times as needed until it heals.

For more information about hydrogen peroxide and the many, many ways you can use it around the house, check out my eBook Hydrogen Peroxide Magic! You can buy it in my shop, or get it for free if you’re an OGT Plus member!

6. Zinc Lozenges

Bacteria can thrive in the presence of a weakened immune system, potentially making you more susceptible to canker sores. Zinc is a crucial mineral for immunity and taking zinc lozenges is one of the easiest ways to get more of it in your system. Zinc lozenges are available online and in most pharmacies, and you can simply follow the dosage instructions on the box.

7. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is known to have antibacterial properties, so it may be helpful in treating canker sores. (However, if you know that acidic foods aggravate your canker sores, you may want to steer clear of this treatment! But it can be a simple and useful treatment for those who aren’t as sensitive to acidic foods and drinks.)

To use this treatment, combine 1 teaspoon of ACV and 1 cup of water. Swish the mixture around in your mouth for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Spit, then rinse your mouth thoroughly with clean water. Repeat daily as needed.

Related: 28 Surprising Ways You Can Benefit From Apple Cider Vinegar

Do you have a preferred method for treating canker sores?

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Hi, I’m Jillee!

I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

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Natural Remedies

Mouth Sores Treatment & Causes

Jump to a Section in this Article:

  • What Causes Mouth Sores?
  • Canker Sores Causes
  • Cold Sores Causes
  • Mouth Sores from Braces
  • Mouth Sores from Dentures
  • Mouth Sore Treatment
  • OraCoat Renewing Melts (HB-12 Melts) for Mouth Sore Relief

Mouth sores are painful ulcers found on the cheeks, lips, gums, tongue, bottom of the mouth, and the soft palate. These sores can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from stress to gastrointestinal diseases. Mouth sore symptoms typically include a burning or tingling sensation inside the mouth followed by painful, sensitive ulcers. In more severe cases, mouth sores can be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, physical fatigue, and fever.

What Causes Mouth Sores?

Common mouth sore causes include: biting your tongue, lip, or cheek; burning your mouth when attempting to eat hot food or beverages; or tissue trauma from braces, dentures, and other potentially sharp objects. Mouth sores can also be related to the consumption of acidic foods and drinks.

Canker Sores Causes

There is no known cause for canker sores. They appear as pale gray ulcers with a red outer ring. Unlike cold sores, for which they are sometimes mistaken, canker sores are not contagious, but are though to be brought on by a variety of triggers, including:

  • Weakened immune system (due to a viral infection)
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Sensitivity to acidic foods
  • Poor diet lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (found in toothpastes and mouthwashes)

Research has also associated canker sores with several inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Celiac disease, and Behcet’s disease, plus diseases related to a suppressed immune system, such as HIV/AIDS.

Cold Sores Causes

Cold sores appear as small fluid-filled ulcers around the lips. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are extremely contagious. The virus can lay dormant for years after the initial infection, but can reappear as cold sores triggered by:

  • Stress
  • Weakened immune system
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sun exposure
  • Hormone changes

Cold sore symptoms include an initial itching/tingling sensation around the lips, a breakout of small blisters, oozing fluid following a burst blister, and finally a crusting over.

Mouth Sores from Braces

It’s not just your teeth that need to adjust to dental braces. If you’ve recently had braces installed or adjusted, mouth sores can become an all-too-real annoyance. Normal, daily activities can become very painful.

One essential for treating mouth sores from braces: orthodontist wax. Applying this wax (usually given to you by your orthodontist, but also available at pharmacies) to your braces can help prevent mouth ulcers from getting worse, though it is not designed to relieve pain or quicken the healing process.

Mouth Sores from Dentures

Similar to braces, new dentures or older dentures that no longer fit correctly can rub against your gums or inner mouth, causing painful mouth sores. If you’ve developed mouth sores with new or ill-fitting dentures, be sure to talk to your dentist about possible adjustments and other treatments for temporary pain relief.

Mouth Sores Treatment

Most mouth sores heal without treatment in 10-14 days, but there are a variety of over-the-counter medications, like Renewing Melts (HB-12 Melts), that can lessen the pain and support natural healing*. There are also several home remedies for mouth sores, including:

  • Gargle salt water
  • Create paste of baking soda and water and apply to ulcer
  • Avoid triggers like hot, spicy, salty, or acidic foods and beverages

OraCoat Renewing Melts (HB-12 Melts) for Mouth Sore Relief

Beyond home remedies, products like Renewing Melts (HB-12 Melts) offer relief from temporary pain caused by canker sores and other mouth ulcers. Renewing Melts work by adhering to gums, teeth, braces or dentures for several hours before fully dissolving.

Renewing Melts feature bioactive vitamin B12 to promote natural healing and support a healthy mouth lining*. The OraMelts™ are simple to use and work well with braces and dentures. Be sure to relax, eat a well-balanced diet, and use Renewing Melts to find relief from painful mouth sores.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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