Canker Sore Treatment

Canker sore treatment is NOT simple! There are many possible causes of mouth ulcers, which are also called canker sores in many countries around the world.

Canker sore treatment depends on knowing what the particular cause is likely to be in your own individual case.

To be perfectly honest, there are no established mouth ulcer remedies that have been 100% proven to make mouth ulcers heal up and disappear more quickly.

A large canker sore on a lower lip.mouth ulcer

BUT there is a product that a LOT of regular ulcer sufferers swear by - Aloe Vera. (SEE BELOW).  There are also some things that you can do to help prevent getting canker sores in the first place, and to reduce how painful they are if you do get them.

Let's just take a quick look at the possible causes of mouth ulcers:

There are a number of research studies in the United Kingdom that show that around 20% of people may get canker sores due to nutritional problems.

Canker Sore Treatment

The most common nutrients to be short of are folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron. Vitamin C can also be an important nutrient, because it is involved in the healing process.

Vitamin C can also improve the absorption of other minerals from your digestive system.

A very small number of patients may get canker sores as part of problems with general digestion, for example difficulty digesting some types of food, or if they have had bowel surgery.

Recent research into canker sore treatment has shown a link between mouth ulcers and a particular ingredient in just about every toothpaste on the market. It's called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, (SLS) and it's added to toothpastes to make them foam up a bit. But in some people it can trigger ulcers or canker sores.

The best  toothpaste that does NOT contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is from TheraBreath. I recommend the standard TheraBreath toothpasteThis may help to prevent getting canker sores in the first place!

Canker sores on the lower lip

BUT, if you DO get some canker sores coming up, my top tip to relieve the irritation and soreness is to apply a high-quality aloe vera gel or spray directly to the area. You can use either a spray, or a gel that you apply directly with your fingertip.

Aloe vera has been shown to have strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and it will calm the ulcers down. It has also been proven to accelerate healing by up to 30%. BUT you have to use a good quality product with a high aloe content. I have found it works extremely well!

Canker Sore Treatment


In people who are prone to getting tongue ulcers, STRESS can bring on an attack. They may have a general tendency to get canker sores anyway, but a particularly stressful time at work or in the home can trigger more frequent and more extensive ulcer formation.

There may be a hormonal factor, too, because many women only get canker sores on the tongue during certain phases of their monthly cycle. Women who regularly get tongue ulcers seem to get fewer when they are pregnant. Hormone therapy has been used to treat some women, successfully.

Canker Sore Treatment

Remember, there are no mouth ulcer treatments that are 100% proven to make ulcers heal up more quickly. They will usually heal up in their own time. BUT there are some products that regular ulcer sufferers believe DO speed things up! There are also some mouth ulcer remedies to reduce the discomfort.

  • If the canker sores are caused by a fungal infection, an anti-fungal medication can be used, like Nystatin. You should get your dentist to confirm that you have a fungal infection first.
A picture of a packet of orajel

There are also anesthetics such as Orajel, which will help to numb the area for a while. They are available without a prescription. The ointment should be applied a few times daily directly to the ulcers.

HOWEVER the FDA in America states that benzocaine products should not be used on children less than two years of age, except under the advice and supervision of a healthcare professional.

  • Anti-inflammatory gels containing steroids may also be applied directly to the tongue ulcers to reduce the inflammation. You will need a prescription for this. The main ingredient is usually fluocinonide (Lidex) or triamcinolone.
  • Antibiotics will not help the ulcers, because they are not caused by bacteria. BUT it is possible to get an infection of the ulcers themselves. In this case, antibiotic gels (for example, tetracycline (Achromycin]) may also be recommended by your doctor.
  • A chlorhexidine mouthwash, such as Corsodyl or Chlorohex may help to reduce the pain. It may also help ulcers to heal slightly more quickly. It may also help in preventing ulcers from becoming infected.
  • A steroid-containing tablet that you suck, such as Corlan or Betnesol can help to alleviate discomfort. But you have to try to keep the tablet in contact with the ulcer until it dissolves.
  • A steroid tablet works best if you start using them as soon as you feel you are getting an ulcer. If started early enough, it may help to prevent the ulcer from forming completely. You should normally take one steroid tablet four times a day, until the ulcer goes. For children, limit the tablets to no more than five days at a time.

Canker Sore Treatment

What about normal painkillers?

Pain medications such as Advil, Tylenol, or Ibuprofen may help if the sores are really getting painful.

Zinc lozenges, or vitamin B and C tablets seem to help some folk, although they are not painkillers in the normal sense.

You could also try a mouth spray such as Difflam, or a gel such as Bonjela. The effect of these particular painkilling medicines doesn't last very long, but the Difflam Spray is very useful for ulcers at the back of the throat.

You can buy most of the treatments listed above from pharmacies without a prescription, depending on the country you live in. SOME other treatments include mouthwashes containing the antibiotic tetracycline or doxycycline. But this is getting into the heavyweight drugs, and must be prescribed by a medical doctor or dentist.

Self-help tips if you have canker sores:

  • Avoid abrasive foods such as potato chips that can aggravate the sores.
  • Be careful when brushing your teeth, to go slowly and gently around the teeth and gums.
  • Avoid hot, spicy foods, and also anything acidic like citrus fruits.
  • Try a different brand of toothpaste, especially one without sodium lauryl sulfate. This seems to be quite effective for a lot of ulcer sufferers. Avoiding toothpastes with sodium lauryl sulfate can reduce the number of ulcers you get, and also reduce how severe they are.

Aphthous mouth ulcers can be painful and are often a nuisance, but are not serious. They should heal up within 7 to 10 days.

But remember that mouth cancer can sometimes start as an unusual mouth ulcer that does not heal.

If you have a mouth ulcer that has lasted more than 10 to 14 days without healing, in spite of mouth ulcer treatment, I recommend that you make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. This is even more important if you smoke. Your dentist may send you to the nearest hospital or oral medicine specialist. A biopsy of the ulcer will rule out cancer, if it really is just a normal ulcer.

Here is another page about mouth ulcers (canker sores) that may be useful;

Causes of Mouth Ulcers

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