If you suffer from canker sores, you are not alone. In fact, canker sores affect about 1 in 10 people regularly. They typically begin appearing in the late teens to early twenties and affect women more than men. While most canker sores heal on their own with time, they can be painful, and many searches for treatment options to help relieve pain and speed up healing. But are their medications for canker sores? What is the best canker sore treatment? Here at New Leaf Rohnert Park, we understand the difficulty you face when suffering from a canker sore and offer some helpful treatment options.
What are canker sores?
Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small whitish or yellowish lesions that form inside your mouth. It can include tissue inside your cheeks, under your tongue, on your soft palate, or at the base of your gums. Before they form, you may experience a slight tingling or burning sensation in the area where the canker sore eventually erupts.
Canker sores typically heal on their own within a few weeks. Hence, no treatment is necessary. However, they can be painful. Many often turn to treatment options to minimize pain, reduce infection risk, and boost healing.
Common causes of canker sores
Canker sores can develop for various reasons, and, in many cases, there is not a clear cause. Some common risk factors for the development of canker sores include:
- An allergy to a specific food
- A weakened immune system
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Chronic medical conditions, such as Crohn’s, Lupus, and reactive arthritis
Canker sore treatments
While canker sores typically heal within 7-10 days, that can seem like a lifetime when they are causing you pain and discomfort. These treatment options can help improve the pain and discomfort, reduce the risk of infection, and help speed up the healing process.
1. Mouth rinses
Using a regular mouth rinse with antiseptic properties can help to reduce the risk of infection. In addition, many of these also provide a slight numbing sensation that can help reduce the pain and discomfort associated with your canker sore.
2. Over-the-counter products
A quick stroll through the dental aisle in your local store will offer a wide selection of over-the-counter options for the treatment of canker sores. These can include gels, pastes, creams, and patches. These medications help treat the canker sore and protect it from further irritation.
3. Oral medications
Over-the-counter pain meds, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen, can often help provide pain relief from canker sores. If you suffer from the continued development of canker sores, your physician or dentist may prescribe certain medications designed to treat regular canker sore occurrences, such as antibiotics, antivirals, and steroids.
The addition of certain supplements can often help improve the healing process of canker sores.
Canker sores occur due to bacteria, and the more bacteria, the greater risk of increased infection. Zinc is a natural immune system booster and helps fight off the bacteria responsible for developing the canker sore. Sucking on a zinc lozenge can help reduce the pain and promote healing.
Vitamin B complex
A vitamin B12 deficiency can often contribute to the development of canker sores. Adding vitamin B complex to your daily routine can often help prevent its development and provide an analgesic effect on your current canker sores. In fact, a 2015 study showed that vitamin B12 helped relieve pain effectively in patients with canker sores.
While often found in a B complex vitamin, folic acid is actually the natural form of vitamin B9. Like vitamin B12, a folic acid deficiency can contribute to the development of canker sores.
5. Home Remedies
Many different remedies are available to treat canker sores with items you likely have in your home. These can include:
- Saltwater rinse: Rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater solution helps promote healing.
- Aloe vera: Applying aloe vera gel directly to the canker sore can help reduce pain and discomfort.
- Ice cubes: Applying a wet ice cube directly to them can provide a numbing effect, reducing your pain and discomfort.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Diluting 3% hydrogen peroxide with equal parts of water and applying it directly to a canker sore with a cotton ball or swab helps to kill bacteria and promote healing.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil has natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help promote healing and reduce discomfort.
- Honey: Unpasteurized, unfiltered honey has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help promote healing and reduce pain. Unfortunately, most grocery store honey is pasteurized, destroying many of its benefits. Look for natural, unpasteurized, and unfiltered honey to reap the benefits.
Do antibiotics help cancer sores?
If you find that your canker sores are not healing or if you suffer from recurrent canker sores (sores that appear before older ones heal), you can benefit from prescription topical antibiotics from your doctor or dentist. Antibiotic medications, such as doxycycline, are a very effective treatment option.
When should you see your dentist?
While most canker sores do heal on their own within 7-10 days, there are some cases where your canker sore may require treatment by your dentist or healthcare provider. At New Leaf Rohnert Park, we recommend you consult with your dentist or healthcare provider if you experience:
- Unusually large canker sores
- Have recurring canker sores that develop before previous canker sores heal
- Canker sores that do not heal within two weeks
- Uncontrollable or unbearable pain
- Canker sores that extend onto the outer portion of your lips
- Canker sores accompanied by a fever
- Difficulty eating and drinking
The caring team at New Leaf Rohnert Park is here to help address all of your canker sore and dental concerns. Contact us online or call the office at (707) 607-8695 to schedule a routine dental exam and allow us to evaluate your canker sore concerns.