How to Treat Canker Sores at Home and With Your Doctor’s Help
Canker sores are certainly unpleasant, and they can be especially painful when you have braces that rub against them and cause extra irritation. The exact causes of canker sores aren’t known, but unfortunately they do tend to appear more often in people who wear braces. While they typically clear up in a week or two on their own, we wanted to offer a few tips on how to treat canker sores in case you have a particularly large, painful, or persistent one.
You can try the simple at-home remedies first and see if your canker sore starts subsiding. But, if it doesn’t seem to respond, you can step it up with some of the other approaches. There’s a range of options for how to treat canker sores, so you should be able to find one that works well for you.
How to Treat Canker Sores
- Rinse your mouth for two minutes several times per day with salt and baking soda mixed into warm water.
- You can also dab salt and baking soda directly onto the canker sore. This will sting, though. But it will also accelerate the healing process.
- Eat at least one cup of yogurt with live cultures, holding each bite in your mouth for a few seconds before swallowing it.
- Make a paste by mixing a small amount of alum powder and a drop of water. Apply it directly to the canker sore and leave it on for one minute. Then, rinse your mouth out. Do this once per day until the canker sore is gone.
- Topical oral products with active ingredients like benzocaine, fluocinonide, and hydrogen peroxide can help reduce the pain associated with canker sores and speed up the healing process. These are available over the counter, and sometimes in prescription strength too.
- Ask your doctor or orthodontist about a prescription mouth rinse that contains the steroid dexamethasone. It reduces pain and inflammation.
- Your doctor might prescribe an oral medication if you have a severe canker sore that doesn’t respond to other treatments. One possibility is sucralfate, which is usually used to treat intestinal ulcers (canker sores are ulcers in the mouth). Another option may be colchicine, which is used to treat gout. Oral steroids might be prescribed as well to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Severe canker sores can also be chemically cauterized (burned). Debacterol is a topical solution used for this purpose, and it speeds healing. Silver nitrate may be used too, though it’s primarily to ease pain and doesn’t seem to do much to accelerate the healing process.