Imagine you are eating a big, juicy steak cooked to perfection. You cut out a chunk of steak place it in your mouth. The first bite is delicious, and the second bite is even better. But then, in your fervor for chewing, you forget where the steak ends and where your cheek begins. Before you know it, you’ve bit down on your cheek and your meal is disrupted by pain.
The next day, you wake up and realize you have a canker sore, right where you bit down on last night. A canker sore is a small ulcer inside the mouth, and it may appear white with gray or red edges. They can appear on the inside of your lips, cheeks and on your tongue.
They can be caused by stress, trauma (like biting on the inside of your cheek or braces irritating your mouth), allergy, and other factors, like the types of food you eat. They are usually more of a nuisance than a serious health issue. Here are some important tips and remedies to keep in mind when you feel mouth sores forming.
How to avoid aggravating the canker sore:
- Be gentle when you brush your teeth: try not to bump it!
- Steer clear of foods that will irritate your canker sore, including crunchy, dry, or acidic foods–especially citrus or spicy foods.
- Chew on the side that is free of canker sores so you don’t risk biting on it again.
- If you have braces, apply wax where the canker sore meets them. If your braces or dentures continue to cause discomfort and canker sores, your dentist may be able to make the proper adjustments to fix the issue.
Most canker sores will resolve on their own after one to two weeks. There are some canker sore remedies that help relieve the discomfort of canker sores including the following:
- Do a mouth rinse with warm water and baking soda or a mild saltwater solution. Mix about 1 teaspoon of baking soda with ½ cup of warm water for rinsing.
- Consider using a cotton swab and a topical, over the counter medication that can help numb the pain.
- Products like Oragel can be applied to the canker sore for temporary relief. These types of products contain benzocaine, so make sure to read all cautions before applying and do not overuse them.
- Eating yogurt with live probiotic cultures can help, so try eating at least one cup a day.
- Honey is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, so you can try applying unpasteurized, unfiltered honey directly to the sore up to four times a day.
- Take over-the-counter pain relief medication, like ibuprofen.
- Try sucking on small ice chips, applying them directly on the canker sore as it melts, as this can help the pain.
- There are prescription medications that can be used to help relieve painful symptoms, and in some cases speed healing times.
If you find yourself getting canker sores regularly, start keeping a record of when they happen to see if you notice any possible triggers. This can help you determine if there is something in your diet or lifestyle that is causing these to be a recurrent issue.
In some cases, canker sores can be caused by a viral infection or something like a vitamin deficiency or hormonal changes. Most of all, make sure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, staying active, and reducing stress. Living a healthy, active lifestyle is always beneficial.