If you have ever had a canker sore you know first-hand how miserable they can be. A canker sore is a throbbing pain that doesn’t go away for days. Some canker sores can hang around for even a few weeks. Not only do you have to deal with hitting it when you are eating and drinking, they are very unsightly. A canker sore is a small ulcer that forms either on the inside or the outside of the soft tissues like lips or gums. A canker sore is different from a cold sore, though they look very similar. A canker sore is not contagious while a cold sore is. 

Why do you get canker sores and, when you do, how can you get rid of them quickly? In this article we at Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry, provide some information and advice to get you through your next bout with a canker sore. Don’t despair!

What Causes a Canker Sore?

A dentist doesn’t need to perform any tests to diagnose a canker sore because it is very obvious. They all look similar. But, it can be difficult to nail down the exact cause of a canker sore. Stress and minor injuries (like accidentally biting your lip or gum) are common causes. However, that being said, there can be other underlying health issues that can cause the sore to occur. 

Most of the time, you get a canker sore when you are overly tired and your immune system is weak. If you have been working a lot and not getting the rest your body needs to recharge, you may be poised for a canker sore to occur. Or, if you have been sick and your immune system is lower because of illness, you are more likely to get a canker sore.

Some possible causes of a canker sore are:

  • Acidic fruits and vegetables
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Medications
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies

Recurring canker sores can be linked to vitamin deficiencies such as B12, zinc, iron, or folic acid as well as underlying health issues that affect immune systems such as lupus, AIDS, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

How Can You Get Rid of Canker Sores Fast?

There are a lot of home remedies and over-the-counter medications you can use to help speed the healing process when you have a canker sore. Additionally, if you are suffering from recurring and persistent sores, your dentist or physician can prescribe stronger medication. 

Here are a few possible solutions you can try at home:

  • Mouth rinse made with salt or baking soda: Do not apply salt directly to the sore, but mix a teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds. Then, make a paste with baking soda and a tiny bit of water that you can apply directly to the sore.
  • Ice: Putting ice on the sore can reduce inflammation and numb the pain. Ice works well for sores on the lips. Be sure to wrap the ice with a cloth so as to avoid frostbite. 
  • Milk of Magnesia: Milk of magnesia functions like salt in eliminating acids in your mouth. It can also decrease pain and expedite the healing process. Dab a small amount on the canker sore with a cotton pad a few times a day.
  • Pain Relief: When the throbbing pain is too much to bear, take a pain reliever like Advil or Aleve. An aspirin or ibuprofen is acceptable as long as you don’t take more than recommended. 
  • Aloe: If you have an aloe plant, put some of the aloe juice on the canker and repeat several times a day. If you don’t have access to an aloe plant, purchase some aloe juice and rinse your mouth with it a few times a day.
  • Onion: The sulfur in an onion can help get rid of a canker sore. Just cut a small slice and rub the onion juice on the sore or leave the onion slice on the sore for a few minutes.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is both an antibiotic and anti-viral and can aid in canker sore healing. Mix 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to 1 8-ounce glass of water and rinse your mouth several times a day. 
  • Topical products: You can find over-the-counter creams, gels, and liquids that can reduce pain and accelerate healing when applied directly to sores as soon as they appear. Some active ingredients to check for are:
    • Benzocaine- a topical anesthetic that numbs nerve endings
    • Fluocinonide – an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid
    • Hydrogen peroxide – a mild antiseptic

When to Go to a Doctor for a Canker Soar

Most canker sores go away on their own and are more of a nuisance than anything serious. However, because it can be difficult to pin down the source on your own, you may want to go to a medical or dental professional to get the proper diagnosis. Sometimes cancer of the mouth can look like mouth ulcers initially, so it doesn’t hurt to take the path of precaution and see a professional. 

If a canker sore lingers after three weeks, it could be something serious. See either your Cary or Holly Springs dentist at Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry if you have any of the following with a canker sore:

  • A high fever
  • Severe or unbearable pain
  • Trouble eating or drinking
  • Unusually large sores
  • Multiple sores at once

Call Us When You Have a Pesty Canker Sore

When you have a canker sore, multiple sores, or sores that linger longer than they should, call our professional dental team at Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry. We can perform tests if needed, give you a proper diagnosis, and recommend remedies. You can reach us at our Holly Springs dentist office at 919-660-6262 and our Cary dentist office at 919-467-2203 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.