13 Home Remedies for Canker Sores

These natural home remedies will take the pain out of your canker sore and help it heal quickly.

Adapted by Taylor Shea from Kitchen Cabinet Cures (Reader's Digest Association Books)
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    Baking Soda

    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 relief, try this home remedy: Rinse your mouth with a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1/2 cup of warm water.

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    Aloe

    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.

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    Milk of Magnesia

    Sip a small amount and use it as a mouth rinse, making sure to rinse the canker sore itself. This home remedy works as an antacid, neutralizing the acids in the mouth that cause your canker sore to sting. You can also dab milk of magnesia directly on the canker sore with a cotton swab 3 to 4 times a day; one variation mixes a teaspoon of milk of magnesia with a teaspoon of Benedryl liquid allergy medicine.

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    Tea Bags

    Tea is an alkaline, so it will neutralize acids that irritate the sore; tea also contains compounds that may help relieve pain. Apply a damp tea bag to the canker sore for five minutes to feel some relief.

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    Sage

    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, making sure to swish the tea in the area of your mouth with the canker sore.

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    Hydrogen Peroxide

    Hydrogen peroxide is a strong disinfectant and will protect your canker sore from becoming infected. Use hydrogen peroxide the same way you would use mouthwash, making sure not to swallow any of the liquid. Or try making a disinfecting mouth rinse by combining 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. The baking soda is an alkaline, which provides extra relief by neutralizing acids. Hydrogen peroxide and salt will both help the sore to heal.

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    Antacids

    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, and the tablets will neutralize the acids and may also speed healing. Check the label for dosage directions.

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    Licorice Tea

    Sold in most health-food stores, licorice tea is an excellent way to treat and eliminate canker sores. Use one tea bag per cup of boiling water and step, covered for 10 minutes, then drink.

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    Salt Water

    Rinse your mouth with salt water for 30 seconds to help your canker sore heal. Higher concentrations of sodium chloride draw water from surrounding tissues by osmosis, which helps heal abscesses and open wounds such as canker sores.

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    Vitamin E

    Cut open a vitamin E capsule and squeeze a bit of the liquid onto the sore. The oil will coat the sore to help protect it from infection and help it heal more quickly.

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    Other Vitamins

    Many experts think lysine, an amino acid, may be needed to fix a deficiency associated with canker sores. Check with your doctor if you should take 500 milligrams of L-lysine 3 times a day until your sore is healed. Vitamin C also might help, as it works to heal your mouth’s mucous membranes. While citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, they may actually cause canker sores in some people; try 1,000 milligrams vitamin C supplements 3 times a day. Zinc is another home remedy to try. As soon as you detect a sore developing, take 30 milligrams of zinc lozenges each day until it’s gone.

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