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What are the Different Types of Canker Sore Treatments?

By Jeremy Laukkonen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Canker sore treatments typically involve attempts to decrease both discomfort and healing time. There are no known cures for canker sores, but there are a number of things that can be done to alleviate pain and help the outbreak clear up sooner. Mouth washes with warm water can help reduce pain, while applying substances such as salt or sodium bicarbonate may speed up the process of healing. In certain situations, more severe canker sore treatments such as corticosteroids may be required, though this typically involves a visit to a doctor and a prescription.

The first step in canker sore treatments is typically an attempt to lessen pain and discomfort. Simply using warm water to rinse the mouth a few times a day may help alleviate some of the pain associated with canker sores. The addition of salt and baking soda to the solution, however, can provide more substantial benefits. Another one of the common canker sore treatments involving a mouth rinse is a solution of diphenhydramine and milk of magnesia in equal amounts. This solution may be useful for treating canker sores, but should not be swallowed.

Canker sore treatments often also involve applying a substance of some kind directly to the canker sores. This can be very uncomfortable or painful, but may help the canker sore form a protective layer and begin to heal. One such solution is very similar to the salt and baking soda mouthwash. A thick paste can be created by mixing salt and baking soda with a small amount of water; this paste can then be swabbed on canker sores. The objective is typically to leave this mixture in place for a few minutes before removing it.

It is also possible to use a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide mixed equally with water, which also can be swabbed on the canker sores. Since hydrogen peroxide is an antibacterial agent, this may help clean any bacteria from the canker sore. After this has been done, it may be a good idea to swab the canker sore with some milk of magnesia.

Commercial antiseptic mouth rinses may also be useful in alleviating pain and discomfort. Additionally, over-the-counter analgesic dental creams and gels are often available. Though these are often marketed for tooth pain, they are safe for oral use and can often be used to numb canker sores as well.

Especially severe outbreaks, or ones that haven't cleared up in about two weeks, may require a visit to a doctor for a prescription. Two things that are sometimes prescribed are tetracycline and corticosteroids. These usually aren't required, but a doctor should be able to determine if they are.

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