Canker Sores

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Maybe it’s the stress of heading back to school, or summer coming to an end but for some reason we have seen a number of patients with canker sores recently.  It is estimated that at any given time 20% of Canadians suffer from canker sores – The precise cause of canker sores remains unclear.  Researchers feel a variety of factors, including allergies, injury, genetics, stress, and a weakened immune system may contribute to the development of these painful sores.  Canker sore treatments and remedies vary depending on their type and severity. It is helpful to learn about the triggers that are possibly associated with your canker sore outbreaks to possibly help reduce the frequency of your canker sore occurrences. (Presently, there is no known cure for canker sores.)  Here are a few of the current recommendations.

  • Saltwater Solution and Sodium Bicarbonate – Mix 1 teaspoon salt with one cup warm water. Swish the solution in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit the solution out. In addition to salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may be added to the saline solution. Create a paste by mixing baking soda with small drops of water until a thick consistency results. Use this paste to cover the canker sores, which will help relieve pain. These methods may be repeated as often as needed. Saline and sodium bicarbonate both help the mouth heal quickly by gently reducing the alkalinity and bacteria in the mouth.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide Solution – Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with one part water. Use a cotton swab to dab the solution directly onto the canker sores. Do not swallow the solution. Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that will help reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
  • Milk of Magnesia – Used frequently as an aide to relieve constipation and as an antacid, milk of magnesia is a liquid suspension of magnesium hydroxide. Dab milk of magnesia directly onto the canker sores with a cotton swab, three to four times a day. This method is recommended after using the hydrogen peroxide solution. Milk of magnesia will help reduce the pain and help speed the healing process.
  • Over-The-Counter Oral Care Products and Mouth Rinse – Available in most dental care sections, antiseptic mouth rinses contain ingredients intended to help heal mouth sores by reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Oral care products that are manufactured to numb painful areas in the mouth are also useful when treating canker sores. Products such as gels, paste, and rinses that are specifically marketed for mouth sores may provide pain relief and help speed the healing process. It is important that you follow the manufacturers’ instructions closely when using over-the-counter products.

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