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. 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 form a long-lasting protective coating over the sore to speed healing and provide fast pain relief.
A form of licorice known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or DGL, also coats canker sores. It’s available in health food stores. Chew one or two 200-milligram tablets two or three times a day.
The sap of aloe vera — the ubiquitous “first aid plant”– can bring welcome relief. Squeeze a bit of gel from an aloe vera leaf. Dry the sore with a cotton swab, then dab on the gel. Repeat as often as you like.
Cut open a vitamin E capsule and squeeze a bit of the liquid onto the sore.
Put It in Neutral
Munch a chewable Pepto-Bismol, Tums, or Rolaids tablet or put it on the sore and allow it to dissolve. The pain you feel from a canker sore is caused by acids and digestive enzymes eating into the tissue in the sore. The tablets will neutralize the acids and may also speed healing. Check the label for dosage directions.
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.
Apply a damp tea bag to the sore for five minutes. Tea is alkaline, so it neutralizes acids. It also contains astringent compounds, which may help relieve the pain.
Get That Numb Feeling
Dab on a topical anesthetic such as Anbesol or Orajel.
Let a pain-relieving lozenge, such as Chloraseptic, dissolve in your mouth.
Mix two ounces of hydrogen peroxide with two ounces of water. Add one teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of salt, and stir until they dissolve. Swish the solution around in your mouth and spit it out. Hydrogen peroxide is a strong disinfectant. That’s a plus, since a canker sore is an open wound that’s vulnerable to infection, which increases the pain. And since baking soda is alkaline, it provides extra relief by neutralizing acids. To speed healing, apply a liquid form of herbal goldenseal on the sore three times a day, at least an hour before eating. Goldenseal has modest antibacterial properties.
Put a single drop of tea tree oil, an antiseptic, directly on the sore.
Make a tea from calendula, better known as pot marigold, valued for centuries in the treatment of minor sores. Pour a cup of boiling water over a teaspoon or two of dried petals. Let it steep for 10 minutes, strain out the leaves, and let the tea cool down until it’s barely warm. You can gargle and rinse several times a day, or drink the tea.
Eat yogurt that contains live acidophilus cultures (check the label). Have a few teaspoonfuls daily for prevention — more when you’re having a breakout.
Take Extra Measures
Many experts think lysine, an amino acid, may be needed to fix a deficiency associated with canker sores. Take 500 milligrams of L-lysine three times a day on an empty stomach until your sore is healed.
Echinacea is an herb that strengthens your immune system. Take 200 milligrams two or three times a day when you first notice a sore starting to appear.
Vitamin C helps heal your mouth’s mucous membranes. Normally, we would turn to citrus fruits for vitamin C, but these may actually cause canker sores in some people. Instead, take vitamin C supplements. Try 1,000 milligrams three times a day. If you develop diarrhea with dosages this high, switch to 500-milligram supplements instead.
Zinc may help mouth injuries like canker sores heal faster. As soon as you detect a sore developing, take 30 milligrams of zinc lozenges each day until it’s gone.