The world would be a happier place if canker sores don’t exist, wouldn’t it? No more unexplained intense pain in the morning. No more longingly staring at that delicious piece of steak because your canker sore makes it hard to eat. No more wondering why these canker sores just can’t leave you alone.
We get it. Canker sores are like paper cuts – small and harmless but such a pain in the neck to deal with. Thankfully, with all the topical canker sore treatments available in the market nowadays, you don’t have to ride out the pain like everyone used to do back in the day.
What Are Canker Sores?
Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in your mouth. Since they normally go away by themselves, they wouldn’t be a huge issue if they aren’t so darn painful.
You might notice a tingling sensation 1 or 2 days before the sore develops. If you are one of the lucky ones, you can prevent the canker sore from popping up by taking pre-emptive measures like taking care of your diet. Once it develops, you will notice an oval or round sore with a white or yellow center with a red border. Before long, you will have difficulty speaking, eating, swallowing, or even just moving your mouth.
Types of Canker Sores
There are three main types of canker sores. Minor canker sores are small canker sores in your mouth. These sores are normally even-shaped and have a faint red border. They heal easily, so you don’t have to worry about these too much.
Major sores, however, have more defined borders with some irregular edges. These are typically larger and deeper than minor sores. So naturally, they hurt more as well as they grow bigger. Besides that, these might even leave scars when they heal. They also take longer to heal – up to six weeks or major pain.
Herpetiform sores are a cluster of cold sores-like canker sores that form in your mouth. They are usually made up of up to 100 minor canker sores. Because of the sheer amount of sores in the cluster, they can be very painful and could escalate into something more serious if you leave them be. Not to mention the nosedive your social or dating life will take as they look very serious.
Nobody knows why some people are more susceptible to canker sores while others get maybe 3 canker sores in their lifetime. The good news is, there are multiple ways you can get rid of canker sores easily without having to power through the two weeks needed for your canker sores to heal.
In this article, we will recommend the top 10 best topical canker sore treatments in the market. If that’s not enough, we will also talk about 10 home remedies for canker sores.
Top 10 Topical Products for Canker Sores
Gel-based canker sore medications are some of the most common in the market because they are so easy to apply. Better yet, if they are made of all-natural ingredients.
Oralix Natural Canker Sore Relief is a FDA-approved topical gel with organic herbs and oils. When you apply it to your canker sore, it seals the canker sore in a thin film to provide pain relief.
Unlike a lot of canker sore topical treatments that are nasty-tasting, Oralix Natural Canker Sore Relief permeates a cooling sensation throughout your mouth that soothes your mouth. Not only that, but it also helps prevent bad breath!
Sometimes, canker sores can be triggered by an overgrowth of bacteria and germs in your mouth. Durham’s Canker-Rid is a liquid-based canker sore medication that helps get rid of mouth sores, mouth ulcers, and cold sores by sterilizing your mouth.
It contains food alcohol, which kills harmful bacteria and germs that might be crawling in your mouth. Besides that, it also numbs your sores, so it’s the ideal canker sore treatment for you if you are concerned about further infecting your canker sores. It does sting a little, but the relief that follows is well worth it.
Kank-A Mouth Pain Liquid is a powerful canker sore pain relief liquid that offers instant pain relief. It contains 20% benzocaine, an analgesic that is typically used in cough drops or topical oral ulcer treatments.
Benzocaine numbs your sores, so it’s great if you need a quick fix for pain. You don’t have to worry about making a mess while applying either since it comes with a liquid-control tip applicator.
Although Kank-A Mouth Pain Liquid is ADA-approved, it is not recommended for children under 2 years old. Besides that, you shouldn’t eat within the hour after application to avoid ingesting too much benzocaine.
Using a mouth rinse is also another popular method to get rid of canker sores. Most mouthwashes eliminate most bacteria and germs in your mouth to create a bad growing environment for canker sores.
Colgate Peroxyl Mouth Sore Rinse, Mind Mint is an alcohol and benzocaine-free mouthwash that disinfect your mouth and soothes your canker sore pain. It provides an oxygenating action that cleans debris around the area to promote healing. You can also use this effective mouthwash to treat gum inflammation from dental procedures, dentures or orthodontic appliances like braces. The slight minty feeling makes it a pleasure to gargle and doesn’t dry your mouth out as most mouthwashes do.
GUM Canker-X Pain Relief Gel is an ADA-approved aloe vera-based canker sore gel, so don’t expect any sting or burn when you put it on your canker sores. Not only does it soothe your canker sores, but it removes plaque as well.
It comes with an applicator for easy application and hard-to-reach areas. It is best used with Colgate Peroxyl Mouth Sore Rinse as it provides a healing, protective barrier after the mouthwash kills off most of the bacteria in your mouth.
GUM Rincinol P.R.N Alcohol-Free Mouth Sore Rinse is another effective mouth rinse that helps disinfect and protect your mouth against canker sores. Most people use it for canker sores, but you can also use it for gum sores, minor bites, and cheek cuts.
Since it is alcohol-free and Benzo-free, it doesn’t sting or burn. Rather, it provides gentle healing and mild pain relief to help you get on with your day. It creates a micro-thin, bio-adhesive barrier that shields your oral nerve endings from blood, food residue, bacteria, or dentures. With 60 seconds of swishing this in your mouth, it provides up to 6 hours of mild pain relief. It is also safe for children.
Kank-A Softbrush Tooth/ Mouth Pain Gel contains a combination of 2 analgesics for instant pain relief. It stops canker sores, tooth pain, and gum pain from toothaches and denture irritations.
One of the analgesics in question is benzocaine, which is included to boost pain relief. It is super effective against painful canker sores, but it tends to numb out your whole mouth to dull the pain. Kank-A SoftBrush Tooth/ Mouth Pain Gel comes with a pen-like brush applicator that makes reaching to the deeper areas of your mouth a breeze. The slender tube also makes reapplying easy and inconspicuous.
Oragel 3X Medicated for All Mouth Sore Gel is one of the most readily available OTC canker sore gel. You can get it in any pharmacy near you. Oragel 3X Medicated for All Mouth Sore Gel is a powerhouse for pain relief. It contains 20% benzocaine and menthol to numb and soothe your canker sore. It also contains zinc chloride, which protects your mouth. It can sting quite a bit even though it is alcohol-free. It is not recommended for children under 2 years old.
Recently, holistic and all-natural canker sore treatments are making a comeback as more people are becoming aware of what they put in their bodies. Instead of using strong chemicals, these alternative treatments harness the power of nature to heal canker sores.
Goodbye Canker Sores Mouth Ulcer Treatment is one such product. The cilantro, cloves, and lavender all have antiseptic and antibacterial properties. In addition, cilantro is also anti-inflammatory, so any canker sore swelling you have in your mouth will go down instantly. Cloves and lavender are natural analgesics with an extra numbing effect from cloves. All these ingredients infused in Omega 3 & 9 oils and essential oils make a powerful serum that will soothe and heal your canker sores in no time.
Cold Sores Begone, Canker Sores Begone is a great canker sore relief balm if your canker sores are caused by stress, fatigue, and dental procedures. It contains natural ingredients such as coconut oil, grapefruit seed extract, peppermint oil, and beeswax. Not only that, but this product is also gluten, paraben, and petroleum-free.
Because of its arsenal of natural ingredients, it is safe for kids and adults of all ages. Cold Sores Begone, Canker Sores Begone also promises to cure your canker sores within 1-3 days, a claim that many of their customers support. The balm formula is great since it stays on, but you have to make sure to put it on with clean fingers
Home remedies for canker sores
Topical canker sore treatments are effective and cheap, but it’s always better to go the extra mile for good measure. To get rid of your canker sores as fast as possible, you can pair your canker sore topical treatment of choice with one of these home remedies.
Hydrogen peroxide is an especially effective canker sore treatment as it cleanses your sore and reduces the bacteria in your mouth. You should dilute the hydrogen peroxide before using it since it’s pretty strong. You can dab a cotton swab soaked in hydrogen peroxide on the sore a few times a day to promote healing.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a common essential oil that’s great for reducing irritants in your mouth. Like hydrogen peroxide, you should dilute it with water before using it. Add three to four drops of tea tree oil to half a cup of water and soak a cotton swab for a couple of minutes. Apply the solution all over the canker sore as many times as you need throughout the day. You can also use tea tree oil to make a mouth rinse.
Milk of magnesia
Milk of magnesia is frequently used to relieve constipation, but do you know that you can use it to cure canker sores as well? You can use it to help neutralize the pH in your mouth, which creates a less hospitable environment for your canker sore to thrive in theory. Try dabbing milk of magnesia on your canker sore up to three times a day.
Saltwater or baking soda rinse
Saltwater rinse is a popular home remedy used to lessen inflammation. Salt is alkalic, so it neutralizes your mouth’s pH, which in turn, decreases the growth of bacteria and germs in your mouth.
To make a saltwater rinse, stir a quarter teaspoon of salt or sea salt into a warm cup of water until it dissolves completely. For maximum effect, you should use a saltwater rinse before you apply your topical canker sore treatment. You can also achieve the same disinfectant effect with baking soda.
Sage mouthwash is very popular within the zero waste community since they are natural, easy-to-make, and effective. You can gargle with sage mouthwash to reduce mouth inflammation as it is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent.
Steep one to two tablespoons of fresh or dried sage leaves in boiling water for 4 minutes. After that, strain it to get rid of the sage and cool the mouthwash in a jar. Store the mouthwash in a cool and dry place so that it doesn’t go bad. You can use sage mouthwash the same way you would with store-bought mouthwashes.
Vitamin B12 supplements
Sometimes, your canker sores can be caused by a lack of certain vitamins in your body. Although not much research has been done on why a vitamin B12 deficiency cause canker sores, many people have sworn by vitamin B12’s effectiveness to cure canker sores. According to a 2017 study, participants who took 1,000 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily had fewer canker sore outbreaks. They also have fewer sores overall and experience less pain than participants taking a placebo.
Probiotics (or yogurt!)
You might want to look into using probiotics to treat your canker sores if they are caused by Helicobacter pylori. Also known as H. pylori, this strain of bacteria typically causes stomach ulcers but is also shown to trigger canker sore outbreaks.
A supplement with Lactobacillus Johnsonii strain can inhibit the growth of H. pylori. If you don’t feel like taking an extra supplement, you can also use yogurt to combat your H. pylori-induced canker sores. As an extra bonus, these probiotics may also improve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, which is linked to the incidence of canker sores.
Chamomile and Honey
Chamomile and honey are common remedies for the common cold, but they can also help with your canker sores. They help by reducing inflammation and pain. Besides that, when applied a few times a day, they may also reduce the size of your canker sores or heal them completely. The honey you use should be as pure and unprocessed as possible for the best effects. However, the effect of chamomile and honey mixture on canker sores isn’t proven by science despite overwhelming support from people who have used it.
Coconut oil has antimicrobial abilities that can suppress the growth of bacteria. Because of this, it may cure canker sores caused by bacteria and prevent them from spreading in your mouth. If you are having trouble moving your mouth, coconut oil can also reduce pain and redness as it is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Watermelon frost is a traditional Chinese medicine sold as a powder, tablet, or spray. It has been considered as an effective alternative cure for canker sores in many Asian communities. It can be directly applied to the sore for pain relief and quicker healing. However, research on the effectiveness of watermelon frost on canker sores far from being established. You have to buy quality products from reputable sources though, as some traditional Chinese medicine were reported to contain high levels of mercury.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What are the common causes of canker sores?
Unfortunately, the exact causes of canker sores are not very well-understood. As far as scientists and researchers can tell, canker sore outbreaks are caused by a combination of different factors.
You are more likely to fall prey to canker sores if you’ve ever had a minor injury in your mouth. These injuries can be caused by excessive tooth brushing, cheek bites, or simple accidental mishaps. Dental products containing sodium lauryl sulfate can also trigger canker sores.
Besides that, your diet can also contribute to canker sore outbreaks if you’re not careful. As we’ve mentioned before, a lack of vitamins and minerals like B-12, zinc, folate or iron can lead to canker sores. Food sensitivities like coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese, spicy or acidic food can also trigger canker sore outbreaks.
In addition, you are also more likely to get canker sores if you don’t maintain proper dental hygiene. Bacteria have been found to cause canker sore outbreaks. Some of them cause an allergic reaction in your mouth. Others, like H. pylori, causes canker sores as a result of a separate condition.
Stress, especially emotional or work stress, is also a major cause of canker sores because of its impact on your immune system. Menstruation hormonal shifts in women can also mess up your system enough to cause canker sores.
- Are canker sores the same as cold sores?
Absolutely not! Although both canker sores and cold sores look similar, there is a world of difference between them. For one, canker sores grow inside your mouth and are caused by a combination of minor injuries, diet, stress, or bacteria. They are not contagious.
Cold sores, on the other hand, normally appear on the surface of your lips. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which makes them highly contagious. Cold sores might also first appear as blisters on your lips and develop into cold sores when they pop.
- Am I more susceptible to canker sores?
Teens and young adults tend to get more canker sores than other groups of people. Women are also more likely than men to get canker sores.
Besides that, there are certain conditions that could trigger canker sores. For example, people with Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease often complain about canker sores. A healthy immune system plays a huge role in fighting off canker sores, so you have to look out if you have diseases that lower your immune system like HIV/AIDS or Behcet disease.
- When should I see a doctor?
Canker sores are normally painful but mostly harmless sores in your mouth. For the most part, you can treat them with topical canker sore treatments with home remedies or ride through the pain.
However, if you get canker sores all the time, consulting a doctor might be a good idea since they can tell you what they are triggered by. You can take preventive measures to avoid future canker sores.
Canker sores can also be indicators of underlying diseases that you don’t know you have yet. You should absolutely see a doctor if you are experiencing fever, unexplained tiredness, a rash or sore on a different part of your body, irritated eyes or stomach pain in conjunction with your canker sores.
Angy is a Budapest-based writer. Armed with curiosity, a passion for healthcare, and an overwhelming desire to inform and correct, she advocate for better health and wellness through the power of her mighty pen.