How to Stop Canker Sore Pain

Updated: Jun. 30, 2022

If you're looking for remedies to stop the annoying ache of canker sores, these study-tested remedies might do the trick.

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That little crater in your mouth causes more pain than anything so small deserves to. Rest assured that in a week or two, your canker sore will most likely be history, and you can chomp a chip, drink a cup of joe, or smooch your spouse without regretting it.

What is a canker sore?

It’s a somewhat mysterious condition known medically as recurrent aphthous ulcers, says Craig Zunka, DDS, a dentist in Front Royal, Virginia. The sores typically appear inside the lips or cheeks, around the gums, or on the tongue. They are white or yellowish, with a halo of red, ranging from the size of a pinhead to the dimensions of a quarter. Experts aren’t sure what causes canker sores, but an immune-system malfunction is thought to play a role. A stressful episode or a mouth injury often precedes a breakout. Recurrent sores can also be brought on by eating certain foods if you have sensitivities, such as chocolate, strawberries. eggs. cheese and spicy or acidic foods. Toothpastes containing sodium laurel sulfate may cause them in some people, as well.

Should I call the doctor?

If the pain is too distracting or it’s keeping you from eating or drinking, call your dentist. Definitely call the dentist if you have more than four sores at a time or if the sores last longer than two weeks. Also, if you find that you’re getting canker sores frequently, tell your dentist at your next visit so he or she can recommend evaluation and treatment, such as an antibiotic mouth rinse, a steroid ointment, a prescription oral paste, or chemical cautery of the sores.

Meanwhile, here are ways to blunt the pain and become a sore loser faster.

Seal the sore

Over-the-counter products such as Zilactin-B Canker Sore Gel and Colgate Orabase Soothe-N-Seal can speed healing and provide fast pain relief, according to Mayo Clinic.

A form of licorice known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or DGL, also helps with canker sores, according to a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.

The sap of aloe vera—the ubiquitous “first aid plant”—can bring welcome relief, a study published in Dental Research Journal found. The study authors used a 2 percent gel.

Put it in neutral

Use a small amount of milk of magnesia as a mouth rinse, or apply it to the canker sore three to four times a day to help healing, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Get that numb feeling

Dab on a topical anesthetic such as Anbesol or Orajel, or let a pain-relieving lozenge, such as Chloraseptic, dissolve in your mouth, suggests the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Battle bacteria

Dissolving salt or baking soda into water and rinsing your mouth can aid in healing, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Eat yogurt that contains live acidophilus cultures (check the label). Acidophilus has been shown to speed up canker sore healing.

Take extra measures

Nutritional deficiencies may play a role in the development of canker sores. Consider taking folate (folic acid), vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 or lysine to help reduce the occurrence of canker sores and speed healing, say the experts at the Mayo Clinic. Zinc may help mouth injuries like canker sores heal faster, according to a study in the journal Pharmanest. As soon as you detect a sore developing, take 30 milligrams of zinc lozenges each day until it’s gone. Discover more ways to help your canker sores heal quickly.