Updated: Feb 6
Have your ever had a painful sore in your mouth that just doesn't seem to go away? Are those sores causing burning or tingling while eating certain foods and even with talking? That sounds like a troublesome canker sore. I am from the south (West Tennessee) and each summer my Grandmother would plant a huge garden. Her homegrown tomatoes with mayonnaise on white bread was my favorite summer meal. I would eat so many tomato sandwiches that the corners of my mouth would become irritated and I would invariably develop a canker sore from the acidity of the tomatoes. Those are wonderful memories for me, but that's why I was inspired to write this blog post and put together a natural guide to tackle canker sores and mouth ulcers.
Canker sores affect 20% of people and women get canker sores more often than men. The most common factors that cause canker sores are increased times of emotional stress, a minor injury to the inside of the mouth, or eating acidic foods or hot, spicy foods.
Addressing canker sores naturally is the most effective way to rid yourself of these pesky sores. Natural treatments such as essential oils, proper nutrition, and natural supplements can help to shorten the duration, diminish the pain, and prevent recurrence. Also, one of the most important factors in combating canker sores is managing stress and boosting your immune system. My goal is to provide you with ways to manage each of these naturally.
What Are Canker Sores?
Canker sores are small lesions or ulcers that are found in the mouth at the base of our gums, on the tongue, cheek lining, and inside the lips.
Contrary to what a lot of people might think, canker sores are not contagious and can resolve themselves within a week or two. Applying an organic topical solution can speed up that process and even prevent recurrence and decrease the pain associated with them.
Symptoms Of Canker Sores
Burning or tingling sensation in the mouth a day prior to the appearance of a sore
A small, white or yellow oval-shaped ulcer with a red border
Painful or tingling area in the mouth.
Pain with eating or drinking certain foods or drinks
With more severe or complex canker sores, patients can experience swelling of the lymph nodes, fatigue, or fever
Causes of Canker Sores
Accidentally biting your cheek or lip
A minor injury from dental work or dental equipment such as braces or poorly fitting dentures
Cleaning teeth too abrasively
Toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain the ingredient Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Food sensitivities, especially acidic and spicy foods
Nutritional deficiencies - canker sores are seen more often in patients with nutritional deficiency in vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid or iron
More severe or complex canker sores are seen in patients with autoimmune disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (celiac disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and AIDS.
Hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle
Increased times of emotional stress
Canker Sores vs. Cold Sores
Canker sores should not be confused with cold sores or fever blisters. Canker sores may resemble cold sores/fever blisters, but they are not the same. Cold sores or fever blisters are caused by HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus). These are contagious blisters, making their appearance on the lip area or outside the oral cavity. Canker sores are not caused by a virus and therefore are NOT contagious.
Natural Solutions For Canker Sores
The most effective way to manage canker sores is with natural remedies. Canker sores often recur, but you can reduce their frequency, and ease the discomfort by following these tips:
Change Your Toothpaste - Conventional toothpaste contains sodium lauryl sulfate, SLS, a chemical compound that functions as a foaming agent in many personal care and home care cleaning products including toothpaste. If you have recurring canker sores, tossing out your traditional toothpaste is critical. SLS offers no real value and can be harmful to the protective lining in the mouth. SLS-free toothpaste will still offer the necessary cleaning benefits, yet without the harmful ingredients.
Avoid Eating Abrasive, Spicy or Acidic Foods - Avoid eating abrasive foods such as crackers, chip, nuts, pretzels or burnt toast. Also avoid acidic foods such as lemons, oranges, orange juice, tomatoes, strawberries, coffee, and sodas. Spicy foods such as hot sauce can also create further irritation.
Follow Good Oral Hygiene Habits - Regular brushing after meals and flossing once a day can keep your mouth clean and free of foods that might trigger a sore. Use a soft brush to help prevent irritation to delicate mouth tissues, and avoid toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
Manage Stress - One of the most common causes of canker sores is increased emotion stress. The more stress we experience in our lives, the more health challenges we will have. Make time to practice those things that manage your stress levels. Exercise, mental health walks, meditation, time out with your friends, playing in the dirt, reading...whatever works for you. According to Mayo Clinic, reducing stress in your life as much as possible is actually a key canker sore natural treatment. This lifestyle change can help to prevent canker sores since stress reduction is such an overall immune system and health booster.
Get Good Quality Sleep - This goes a long way in helping reduce stress and allowing your body to heal properly. We all need 7-8 hours of sleep per night for proper health and immune strength. Try our Sleep Assist Essential Oil Blend or one of our premium melatonin supplements for a more restful, restorative sleep.
Oil pulling is swishing coconut oil in your mouth, without swallowing, for 10-15 minutes. Coconut oil has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties that will help with your overall oral health (not just with canker sores).
Use an Organic, Topical Solution to numb the pain, shorten the duration, and prevent recurrence. This is the product I craft and recommend for eliminating canker sores fast. It includes only organic, clean, green ingredients and organically grown essential oils of clove, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and tea tree.
Support Your Immune System - Those who have a poorly functioning immune system are more prone to having canker sores. See below for my recommendations on necessary supplements to boost immune strength.
What to do if you already have a breakout?
What recommendations does Dr. Angela have for those who are currently experiencing canker sores? We handcraft an organic, all-natural product, Canker Elimin-X, an oral coating rinse that is effective for numbing the pain immediately and ridding the mouth of nasty bacteria that leads to recurrence. It is made with only organic ingredients and organically grown essential oils. It is packaged in a easy-to-apply dropper bottle for fast relief.
What Supplements Should I Take?
Certain nutritional deficiencies can lead to having more canker sores. The most common deficiencies are vitamin B12 and Zinc. Studies have shown that supplementing with these support the immune system and prevent the recurrence of canker sores.
B 12 Vitamins - Low levels of vitamins B12 was found in one study to be linked to recurrent mouth ulcers. Other research has found supplementation with 1000mcg vitamin B12 reduced the severity and duration of recurrent mouth ulcers in 75% of subjects who took the supplement. B12 helps promote faster recovery and reduced pain from canker sores. It also improves energy and helps eliminate fatigue and exhaustion. I recommend our B-Replete because it is a comprehensive supplement of B Vitamins that includes B12 and B6 and helps to improve immune function significantly. When the immune system is under attack, it’s important to include a vitamin B supplement.
Zinc - Zinc plays a role in immune function because it is an essential component of many enzymes which are involved in the development of immune cells. Taking a zinc supplements has been shown to reduce canker sores by between 50 to 100 percent and can keep you from getting them in the first place.
Probiotics - I believe the single most important thing people can do to improve their health and immune response is to heal their gut. Probiotics maintain the proper balance of bacteria in your digestive system. The best way to get probiotics is with fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented vegetables, and apple cider vinegar. However, if you don't eat fermented foods, a good quality probiotic is the best solution.
Melatonin - Getting adequate amounts of quality sleep is important for relieving stress and healing from any type of illness. Achieving adequate quality sleep may not be the easiest if you’re under stress, which in turn could worsen its severity. Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates your body’s circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle. Supplementing with melatonin may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. I recommend melatonin in liquid form. This one is lemon flavored. Yum!
Ashwaghanda - Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb native to India, where it has been used in Indian Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems. According to studies, supplementing with ashwagandha was strongly associated with greater reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression. Ashwagandha was also linked to a 23% reduction in morning levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
5 Best Essential Oils for Canker Sores
Essential oils have enhanced lives for thousands of years with their powerful medicinal properties. They have plant based intelligence that seeks imbalances in the body to support health and have been used successfully with numerous mouth & skin conditions. Essential oils provide antibacterial and antiseptic properties that aid in the healing of canker sores.
Clove - Cloves have been used for many years as a natural analgesic to relieve mouth pain and toothaches. Clove essential oil also has an antioxidant (ORAC) score of over 1,000,000! So, this is definitely an oil you’ll want to consider for supporting your entire body and especially canker sores.
Tea Tree - Tea Tree offers strong anti-viral support and can significantly shorten the duration of canker sores. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and has strong wound healing properties.
Lemon Balm -Lemon balm has been studied extensively for it's ability to actually reduce pain from canker sores. It even outperformed other traditional topical remedies that are typically recommended for canker sore pain.
Cinnamon - Cinnamon oil has many health benefits to aid in the healing of canker sores. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that immediately begin to reduce the swelling.
Oregano - Oregano oil contains a polyphenol which acts as a potent antibacterial. It also boosts your immune system function.
As a wellness physician, I have consulted my patients for years regarding the use of essential oils for skin challenges and immune support. I handcraft proprietary essential oil blends and organic body care products to address such concerns. I use these 5 essential oils in my Canker Elimin-X oral mouth solution that also contains coconut oil, aloe vera & sweet almond oil. We've taken the guesswork out of combing natural ingredients and essential oils to resolve canker sores and prevent recurrence.
Why Choose Natural Oral Products?
There are many other natural remedies floating around for the treatment of canker sores, but they aren’t all safe to use (putting alum directly on the canker sore, for example). Avoid products that contain harmful chemicals that can be toxic to your skin and mouth.