None of what you’re about to read has been approved by a doctor. Truth be told, I spent 20 years asking doctors to fix my canker sore problem and literally thousands of dollars later I was right where I started. But I’m going to tell you to consult your doctor first before doing anything I tell you anyway. This article is not intended to assist in the diagnosis or treatment of any illness or injury. Ask your doctor before utilizing any recommendations.
For as long and my miserable mind can remember I have suffered from canker sores in my mouth. I’m not talking cute little canker sores that slightly annoy you. I’m talking huge, volcanic eruptions covering the lining of my mouth. These sores at times would get to be the size of dimes! And worse, I would have up to 10 at a time.
Throughout my childhood, it was very rare for me to not have any canker sores in my mouth. Most of the time I would have one or two; then in terrifying bouts of pain, I would get periodic explosions of 6-10. I remember being around 8 years old, sitting on my dad’s lap while he held me tightly as I cried. He rubbed my back and we just sat there together for who knows how long. I was scared and couldn’t see an end in sight; and I can imagine that he must have been scared too, not knowing if his daughter would ever find relief.
You think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. I’ve seen two gastrointestinal specialists about them. I’ve had them biopsied to no avail.
For those of you who haven’t had severe problems with cankers, just imagine someone stabbing you in the mouth over and over and over. All the while, the point where you’re being stabbed is swelling. Then your entire mouth dries up. Your lips crack, your tongue goes hard. You can’t eat, drink or speak without excruciating pain.
I’m writing all of this because for those of you who stumbled upon this article looking for relief, I first want you to know that I can relate to the pain you’re experiencing. So don’t worry that I’m just some sympathetic bystander getting ready to tell you to “Just put some baking soda on it”.
So after my 23 years of investigating and searching for answers, I’ve finally developed a system that works. I’m not going to say that I never get canker sores anymore but they are dramatically reduced. And when I do get them they never reach the volcanic stage that I frequented so often before. So here we go:
Treatment & Prevention
First, I want to share my fool-proof canker sore remedy. This baby hasn’t failed me yet with the multiple people I have used it on.
Gets rid of canker sores fast without any stinging or burning.
- 1 drop Melaleuca or Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 1 drop Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Apply directly to the canker sore every couple hours or as needed for both healing and comfort. Spit out any excess. For best results apply at the first sign of canker sore onset; don’t wait for canker to fully develop before treating.
What I like to do is buy a vial of roman chamomile and a vile of tea tree oil and combine them in a single glass jar with a dropper. Give it a few swirls to mix the two together. Then apply a drop or two to the sore as directed.
Diet, Nutrition and Food Sensitivities
This may seem like a lot of work but you need to first find out what foods could be causing some of your outbreaks. I say some because a lot of people may be surprised that their canker sores are actually manifestations of multiple irritants. Foods can be one of many irritants. For some people it’s nuts, others it’s strawberries. For me it’s oranges. The foods that are causing your outbreaks could be anything. The majority of food sensitivities are in the high acidic foods (citrus, strawberries, tomatoes, etc.) and nuts. Once you find out what food needs to be avoided, avoid it.
Another food related issue could be your diet. Cankers sores can also be a manifestation of vitamin deficiency, particularly vitamin B12. For more reasons than cankers, make sure you’re eating non-processed, whole, straight-from-the-ground raw foods. Throw out the synthetic dyes, flavors and preservatives. If you are eating a good diet, supplements may help as well. The first two I would suggest trying would be B12 and L-lysine. Many people have found relief from recurring cankers by taking these.
Stress is another common cause of canker ulcers. I deal with stress in my own way as I’m sure you do with yours. If you feel like stress could be a contributing factor, my recommendations are to increase your exercise and take time for daily meditation. I also recommend seeking professional assistance if needed. Sometimes we all just need a good coach.
Most women don’t know that their hormone fluctuations during their menstrual cycles can cause canker sores. Pay attention and you may notice a correlation between the two.
While on my journey to diagnosis, I discovered that there are a handful of illnesses that can be the cause of chronic canker sores. None of these applied to me but they may apply to you: Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and immune system deficiencies. If your sores are a very common occurrence, it might be worth getting checkout for these potential causes. Many of them are curable and all are treatable.
Lidocaine is a topical pain reliever that can quickly become your best friend. This is available by prescription only. It will not heal your canker sores! So still use the treatment above to get rid of them quickly. This gel it purely for comfort and will numb you for about 10-15 minutes. It’s not a lot of time but that’s the perfect duration if you need help eating or getting back to sleep.
Sleeping with a mouth guard
Sometimes the pain from the ulcers can be so bad that you grind or clench your teeth as you sleep. This in the past has caused me to wake up with severe pain throughout my teeth and can also lead to other tooth damage. A mouth guard can protect your teeth while you rest.
Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories are also good to assist in alleviating discomfort. They aren’t as effective as the topical Lidocaine but they will last a lot longer and take the edge off if they have gotten out of control.
Canker Covers (Not recommended)
Canker Covers are a “natural” treatment for canker sores. They have pretty good reviews online, which is why I gave them a try not too long ago. Unfortunately, no one tells you that they can cause tooth damage. I used them for a couple of days on a canker on my lip. The tooth next to the canker cover became excruciatingly sensitve. The sensitivity lasted for about six months. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.
Other Home Remedies
Other remedies that are common (but didn’t work for me) include treating with pure Wasabi, swishing and spitting liquid Benadryl, Milk of Magnesia, salt, baking soda, applying an unlit match and sucking on ice. Many of these sting. A lot of them people will swear by. But like I said, none of them worked for me. And my essential oil treatment doesn’t sting so it’s a win/win all around.
Especially for Parents of Young Children
If you’re here in a desperate attempt to find relief for your child, I am so sorry. As a parent myself, I understand that there is nothing worse than seeing your child suffer, especially when there’s nothing you can do to help. A few suggestions specific for you:
- Use the Essential Oil Treatment! – With my four year old, I just tell him we need to do “the spitting game”. If he has a canker sore I put the oils in both of our mouths (pretending to put it on a sore in my mouth as well) and we lean over the sink and make silly loud sounds as we spit out the excess into the sink. It gets rid of the sores without pain to your child.
- Over The Counter Pain Relieving Gel – There are many over the counter medications for numbing wounds in the mouth. I don’t recommend using these on smaller children. They freaking sting like an m-effer!
- Don’t Treat Them Like A Leper – Cold sores are highly contagious, canker sores are not. Please don’t make your child not share a drink with your other kids or not let them kiss you on the mouth good night. They aren’t going to spread them to your other children. They’re already going through a hard time and shouldn’t feel like an outcast to boot.
- Bendy Straws, And Lots Of Em – Kids love bendy straws. People with canker sores love bendy straws. Straws are awesome because they help you direct your beverage away from your canker sore when you drink. Keep tons of colorful bendy straws stashed away, and when your child is dealing with an outbreak pull them out for meals to assist in both physical and emotional comfort.
- Lots of Love – On top of the obvious extra hugs and kisses, show your child extra lovin’ by tailoring a few things to help them. A good way of doing this is by adjusting your meal plan. Don’t plan meals that are hard or require a lot of chewing. Soup, pudding, jello, yogurt and smoothies are great for a mouth in pain.
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