Certain foods, medications and dental appliances can cause mouth sores -- also called aphthous ulcers or canker sores. Topical pain relievers can soothe mouth sores, but there are also a number of home remedies that can help relieve discomfort. In some cases, adjusting your diet and avoiding certain trigger foods can help you feel better. Homemade mouth pastes and some over-the-counter products may also be useful.
Adjusting your diet to avoid foods that aggravate mouth sores can be an effective home remedy. Spicy, salty and acidic foods can irritate open sores and interfere with healing. Pineapple juice, tomato sauce, nuts, shellfish and foods containing vinegar are common irritants. Some people find that avoiding dairy products helps prevent recurrent canker sores. It may require some trial and error to determine which foods trigger your mouth sores.
A thin paste of baking soda and water may take the sting out of mouth sores. Cotton swabs are ideal for applying the paste to canker sores, as the soft tip minimizes irritation. You can also try dabbing a small amount of milk of magnesia on the sores. A warm saltwater rinse may provide relief. Swish the salt water around your mouth for 30 to 60 seconds, then spit it out. Each of these remedies can be repeated several times a day until the sores heal.
Doctors aren't entirely sure why some people are prone to mouth sores, but vitamin deficiencies may play a role. A 2009 study in the "Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine" found that vitamin B12 supplements helped speed healing of canker sores. Consider taking 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 as a daily supplement to soothe irritation and prevent new canker sores.
If you repeatedly suffer from mouth sores, making some changes to your lifestyle could help reduce the frequency of your sores. Brushing and flossing your teeth daily can help remove irritants that could lead to mouth sores. Be sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles and avoid toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl sulfate since this additive has been linked to recurrent canker sores. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about a strategy to quit.
Call The Doctor
If you have a fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or have one or more sores larger than 3/8 of an inch in diameter, call your doctor. Also see your doctor if your mouth sores persist for more than 2 weeks despite self-treatment.
- American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery: Mouth Sores
- Journal of Common Dentistry: Etiological Factors of Recurrent Aphthous Somatitis: A Common Perplexity.
- The Journal of Family Practice: What Is the Most Effective Way to Treat Recurrent Canker Sores?
- Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine: Effectiveness of Vitamin B12 in Treating Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial
- American Family Physician: Management of Aphthous Ulcers.