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How do I Choose the Best Canker Sore Remedy?

By Rebecca Harkin
Updated Jan 31, 2024
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The exact cause of canker sores isn't clear, though they are believed to be the result of an immune system response of some sort. While there is no cure that will get rid of them forever, a good remedy should allow you to relieve the problems associated with canker sores until they heal and go away. The best canker sore remedy will involve reducing bacteria on the canker sore, applying a pain reliever, and coating the canker sore for protection. It's a multi-step regime that will need to be repeated several times a day.

A canker sore remedy should begin by reducing the amount of bacteria on the canker sore. Keeping the canker sore as clean as possible will typically enhance the healing process and reduce the life of the canker sore. You can try using anti-bacterial mouthwashes or gargling with a 50 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide in water. Both treatments work well to clean canker sores. Swish the solution in your mouth for a minute several times a day and then spit it out.

Canker sores are bothersome because they are so painful, so the best canker sore remedy will also involve the application of a pain reliever. The most common types of topical pain relievers used to treat canker sores are benzocaine and lidocaine. Most treatments come in the form of a gel that is rubbed directly on the canker sore. It's usually OK to repeat this several times a day as needed.

Black tea is touted as a good natural pain reliever and canker sore remedy, but not necessarily for its drinkability. Instead of drinking the tea, place a black tea bag in hot water for a few minutes, cool the tea bag, and then hold the bag on the canker sore for a minute or two. The tannin in the tea acts as a natural pain reliever. You can also apply the tea bag as often as needed.

Eating with a canker sore can be both difficult and painful. A large canker sore often seems to get in the way of chewing, and the canker sore may even be further traumatized by the food in your mouth. The trauma may increase the life of the canker sore by setting back the healing process. A good canker sore remedy will coat the sore, especially while eating.

If you choose to use a topical pain reliever in the form of a gel, then this is all you will need. The gel will act to protect and coat the sore. You may want to apply this right before eating for best protection.

If you prefer not to use a medicated gel, there are several alternatives that can be used to coat a canker sore. The most common method is to swish with a liquid laxative that contains magnesium hydroxide; it will cling to and temporarily coat the canker sore. You should not swallow the laxative. Another option is calamine lotion. You can use a cotton applicator to spread calamine lotion over the canker sore to temporarily coat and protect it.

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