Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, aphthous stomatitis, and ulcerative stomatitis, are small painful ulcerations that have yellow-gray centers and a red border. Usually 1-2mm wide, they occur on non-keratinized mucosa inside the mouth, which is…
- The inner side of the lips
- The tongue, the back, and floor of the mouth
- The wall of the cheeks
They do not occur on the lips, the gums or the hard roof of the mouth. Ulcers can be single or can occur in clusters.
The development of canker sores is uncertain, however, associations with human herpesvirus 6, food sensitivities, stress, and nutrient deficiencies have been suggested.
- They generally take 1-2 weeks to heal and may recur monthly or several times per year.
- Canker sores must be differentiated from drug allergies, herpes simplex infection, Behcet’s syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and squamous cell carcinoma.
- In some cases, biopsy of the ulcer may be necessary.
Baking soda is an alkaline and will neutralize acids that irritate the canker sore; it also helps kill bacteria to help your sore heal quickly. For a cure, try this home remedy: Rinse your mouth with a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1/2 cup of warm water.
Conventional treatments include topical steroids, mouthwash, or an oral paste for symptomatic relief. In severe cases, systemic glucocorticoids may be prescribed.
Known as the “first-aid plant,” aloe vera gel can speed healing and offer soothing pain relief. Dry the canker sore area with a cotton swab, then slice an aloe leaf. With a clean spoon, dab a bit of the gel directly on the sore. Repeat as often as necessary.
Milk of Magnesia
Dycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
DGL is the herb licorice that has had the glycyrrhizic acid removed the portion that can increase blood pressure. In one research study, DGL was found to promote the healing of canker sores, with a 50-75% improvement in one day. This study used a mouthwash made of powdered DGL mixed with water. DGL tablets can be chewed with water, swished in the mouth and swallowed.
Tea is an alkaline, so it will neutralize acids that irritate the sore. It also contains compounds that may help relieve pain. Apply a damp tea bag to the canker sore for five minutes to feel some relief.
Sage kills bacteria and viruses and contains compounds that reduce inflammation. Steep 2 teaspoons of dried sage in a cup of boiling water, covered. Let cool and use as a mouth rinse 2 or 3 times a day; for an effective cure, make sure to swish the tea in the area of your mouth with the canker sore.
Decrease dietary intake of nitrates
Cured and processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and ham, are high in nitrites. One study found that the risk of esophageal cancer was seven times greater in individuals with a history of canker sores. The authors report that canker sores may be an indicator of a high conversion of nitrites to carcinogenic nitrosamines.
Vitamin C works directly against viruses and has been found to inhibit the herpes virus in vitro. In addition, it inhibits the formation of nitrosamines from dietary nitrites, found in bacon, ham, sausages, and other processed meats, and from dietary nitrates, found in vegetables and other foods.
Thiamin (vitamin B1) deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of canker sores. Other nutrients that have been found to be low in people with recurrent canker sores include riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and iron. A health practitioner can assess nutrient status.