Doctors have a fancy name for canker sores—aphthous ulcers—but they don’t have good treatments. These sore spots on the inside of the cheek or on the tongue usually occur where there has been some kind of small injury from biting the tongue or the cheek, for example, or scratching the inside of the mouth with foods such as pretzels or potato chips. No one seems to know why some people get them and others don’t. Canker sores are common, so home remedies abound.
ALOE VERA GEL
When I get a canker sore I use the gel from an Aloe vera leaf directly on the sore. I keep a plant handy all the time.
Aloe gel has a long history of healing cuts and burns, but scientific data proving its effectiveness is slim. However, a small study on licorice-containing patches (marketed under the brand name Cankermelts) that adhere to canker sores suggests that the sores get smaller and heal faster than untreated aphthous ulcers.
My husband used to get canker sores. Our dentist recommended using baking soda to brush his teeth. He hasn’t had a canker sore since.
Some people report that avoiding toothpaste containing the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate can help prevent canker sores.
I have found that toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) made my mouth ulcers much worse! When I switched to Weleda toothpaste, I saw an immediate improvement. Toothpaste with tartar control seems to be especially irritating.
Thanks for the testimonial. Some dentists recommend avoiding toothpaste with SLS in order to reduce canker sores.
I used to get canker sores in my mouth. My mother told me to hold a slice of banana tight against the sore with my tongue, and it works. You have to hold it there until it stings, about four or five minutes. Riper bananas seem to work better. Seldom have I had a sore that lasted longer than a day, and it certainly tastes better than medicine.
A slice of banana certainly sounds like a pleasant treatment for canker sores. We don’t know how it would work.
I’ve read your suggestions for treating canker sores. Some 35 years ago, the school nurse recommended buttermilk to heal them fast!
Why buttermilk might soothe the irritation of canker sores is beyond us, but we cannot think of a safer solution for this annoying and painful problem.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic