Even though most canker sores are very small, the discomfort they cause can be quite large. Some people suffer from canker sores once or twice a year, while others have recurrent canker sores, which can last for as long as two weeks. And while the causes of canker sores can be hard to identify, there are some specific treatments that can help prevent them or at least reduce their severity.
If you have a canker sore, try some of these remedies:
- Try to pinpoint what is causing your canker sores. While you may not be able to define the exact culprit, you may be able to narrow in on some likely causes. For instance, food allergies and nutritional deficiencies could be to blame. In addition, stress and menstrual cycles can also be related.
- Take vitamins or nutritional supplements to see if this helps to reduce the frequency and severity of your canker sores.
- Combine one teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swish this mixture around in your mouth to clean the canker sore and provide some relief.
- Read toothpaste labels and avoid selecting one with sodium laurel sulfate, which can make canker sores worse.
- Steer clear of foods that will irritate the affected area. Salty and spicy choices like potato chips and salsa can make the sores more painful.
- Use an over-the-counter ointment that contains benzocaine, which will numb the affected area. You can also select one of the thicker versions (like Oragel), which, in addition to providing pain relief, can also coat the affected area and protect it from being further irritated.
- For stronger relief, ask your doctor to prescribe analgesic that contains 2 percent lidocaine.
- Find out more about steroid mouthwashes or gels that have anti-inflammatory properties and are available by prescription.
- Or ask your doctor about using a prescription mouthwash that contains an antibiotic called tetracycline, which will help prevent bacterial infections from forming in your canker sores. (Children and pregnant woman should not use this method, as the antibiotic can cause teeth staining.)
- For serious, recurrent canker sores, talk with your doctor about undergoing blood and allergy testing to discover if the cause of your canker sores is anything that can be prevented.
- If frequent canker sores continue to be a real problem, talk to your doctor about taking oral steroids or other immuno-suppressant drugs. (Be prepared for side effects from these drugs.)