Home Remedies for Mouth Ulcers or Canker Sores

Do you find it difficult eating or drinking anything because of sores in your mouth? If yes, do not worry as it is nothing unusual. Aphthous stomatitis or canker sores or mouth ulcers affect practically everyone at some point or the other in their lives.

These painful white sores may form on the tongue, gums or inner side of your lips or cheeks usually in clusters and rarely single.

What Causes Mouth Ulcers?

They are rather mysterious as its actual cause is not known. Some possible causes are biting of the cheek or inside of your lips, stress, viral infections, skin disease, food allergies, excessive consumption of acidic and spicy food, rubbing of braces, genetics and in some cases, due to malfunctioning in the immune response system of the body.

Signs and Symptoms

They generally start as a red patch of oval skin which inflames to develop a white or yellowish spot in its middle. You generally feel some burning and tingling sensation before an ulcer pops out and take about 7 to 10 days to heal. Though uncomfortable, the good news is that mouth ulcers can be easily treated at home using traditional home remedies.

Mouth ulcers are generally located between the teeth and gums and exhibit common signs and symptoms like bad breath, mild fever, excessive salivation, pain while drinking, swallowing, eating and talking and inflammation.

Treating Mouth Sores in children

Mouth sores can be rather painful for children, which makes it difficult of them to eat or drink food comfortably. However canker sores are not a major problem, and can be easily treated and managed at home.

  • While mouth sores go away within a fortnight without any treatment, you can give your child over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen to treat the pain and fear of canker sores. However do not give ibuprofen to infants less than 6 months of age and to children who are dehydrated or who constantly vomit. Also do not give aspirin to children as it can put your child at risk of a serious illness called Reyes syndrome.
  • Frozen juice or cold liquids can help provide relief from mouth ulcers in children.
  • If your child is more than 4 years of age, have him or her rinse their mouth with salt water or baking soda and warm water and then spit it out for relief from mouth ulcers. Make sure the rinse is not swallowed. You can also apply some OTC numbing gel to the mouth sores for pain relief.
  • However call your doctor if your child has a mouth sore which does not go away in 14 days, if there is increased mouth pain and if there is trouble swallowing. You need help from a doctor if there are signs of dehydration like dark or little urine and dizziness, and if there are signs of infection like pus, swelling and drainage around the sore.

So you need not worry if you, someone you know or your children develop mouth sores or ulcers. This is a pretty common condition which many people suffer from, and which can be treated using one of the many home remedies listed here.

12 Effective Home Remedies For Canker Sores

Below you’ll find some of the best tips to treat canker sores

1. Chamomile Tea Bag

Chamomile is an herb generally used to help with relaxation, to induce better sleep and to relax painful digestive track spasms. In addition to this, it has a chemical compound called levomenol or bisabolol which has antiseptic properties and helps reduce inflammation. These properties help provide relief from the pain of canker sores and speeds up the healing process.

All you need to do is soak the chamomile in water for a minute or so and then directly apply on the sore for 5 to 10 minutes twice a day. This provides relief from discomfort and promotes speedy healing.

2. Swish Sage

This is herb of the mint family used extensively in the culinary world, homeopathic medicine and in home remedies. It has been long used in North America to help cleanse the mouth and heal canker sores.

Boil water with a handful of fresh sage and let the herb infuse for 10 minutes. Then swish the water and the herb in your mouth for a minute before spitting out and rinsing with cold water.

You can also place sage leaves in an airtight glass in a dark place for 24 hours to infuse. Then lightly pound the soft and moist leaves to a pulp to place directly on the sore for 5 minutes and then rinse with plain, cold water.

3. Clove Oil

Clove oil has always been used to provide relief from tooth ache as it contains the potent painkiller eugenol. It is widely used for providing relief to oral pain ranging from canker sores to toothaches.

Just swish your mouth with warm or salt water to clean the area so that the clove oil can work better. Then soak a cotton ball in a mixture of olive and clove oil and apply it directly to the sore for 5 to 8 minutes for numbing relief.

4. Honey

Raw organic honey is great for treating painful canker sores with its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Swish some warm water to clean your mouth and then apply some organic raw honey on the sore. Repeat twice or thrice for best results, preferably before night as this is when the sores are not disturbed by your talking or eating.

Also try making a paste of honey and a tsp. of powdered root bark of Indian Gooseberry to apply on the canker sores for immediate relief.

5. Beeswax

Sometimes braces or dentures may irritate your canker sore. In such cases, just apply some wax capping on the surface to reduce any possible friction and speedup the healing process.

Make sure the wax is thick enough to not stick to the braces. Make the capping by melting the beeswax and mixing it with double amount of coconut oil and let it cool. Then press a dollop on your teeth, dentures or braces to prevent any rubbing of the canker sores.

6. Coconut Oil

coconut oil
Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties which make it helpful at getting rid of canker sores. Just dab some coconut oil onto the sore with your clean hands or coconut swab.

If you cannot get the oil to stick onto the sore, melt a tablespoon of oil with half teaspoon of beeswax to thicken it first and then apply.

7. Cayenne cream

Cayenne has capsaicin which can inhibit substance P which mediates pain responses in the body. This makes cayenne a great home remedy for canker sores.

Mix sufficient water with ground cayenne pepper to make a thick paste and using a cotton swab, apply directly onto the canker sore. Repeat twice or thrice a day for pain relief.

8. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera gel has soothing powers which sooth canker sores. Mix a teaspoon of the gel with a tablespoon of water and gently swish over the sore thrice a day for pain relief and quick relief.

9. Yogurt

Yogurt not only helps restore a healthy balance to gut flora but provides a good home remedy for canker sores by balancing bacteria in your mouth. When out of balance, this bacteria can contribute to, or be a cause for canker sores.

Make sure the yogurt you use contains live cultures and is plain, and not vanilla flavored. Eat at least a tablespoon thrice a day for best results.

10. Warm Salt Water

Gargling with salt water proves really helpful at providing relief from really puffed up canker sores that keep rubbing or which you keep butting. Swish warm salt water in your mouth thrice a day till the canker sore disappears.

11. Basil leaves

Basil leaves
Basil Leaves

A very effective and easy home remedy for mouth ulcers involves chewing some holy basil leaves in water at least twice a day. It both helps treat ulcers and prevents bad smell.

12. Essential oils

Peppermint and eucalyptus oils have anti-inflammatory properties and work as anti-microbial giants to treat mouth ulcers. Pour some olive or grape seed oil into a glass mister bottle with other essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus oil and shake well after capping. Then spray directly onto the canker sore for pain relief.

Dabbing a few drops of tea tree oil directly on the ulcers help reduce the soreness round the sore and its related inflammation.

Herbs from the kitchen

  1. Boil some coriander leaves in water and after cooling, gargle it lukewarm thrice or four times a day for best results.
  2. Gargling alternatively with a glass of cold or chilled water and a glass of lukewarm water helps effectively cure mouth ulcers.
  3. Boil a cup of fenugreek leaves in two cups of water and strain the water and keep aside covered for some time. Then gargle with this water twice or thrice every day.
  4. Did you know that eating raw tomatoes help get rid of mouth ulcers? You can also gargle your mouth with tomato juice thrice or four times a day.
  5. Make a mixture of turmeric powder and glycerin and apply on the sores. Even a mixture of honey and turmeric powder provides relief from canker sores.
  6. Eating a banana with curd first thing in the morning gives best results.
  7. Eat more of raw salads, with lots of onions as it helps make the ulcers disappear.

Other herbs

  1. A goldenseal mouth rinse provides relief from mouth sores. Mix a quarter teaspoon of salt with half teaspoon of goldenseal powder and rinse thoroughly for relief.
  2. Mix some slippery elm powder with water to make a paste. You can also suck on slippery elm lozenges available both in drug and health food stores.
  3. Topical application of alum powder available in supermarket spice sections directly on the sores is helpful. Though there may be some burning for a few minutes, this does promote rapid healing.
  4. Mind and body medicine like guided imagery or hypnosis also effectively treats canker sores.
  5. Using a toothpaste which does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate but produces foams is a big help for treating canker sores and preventing a recurrence.

Tips to Remember

  • It is better if you avoid acidic foods when you have a canker sore as they just prolong the healing process.
  • Also avoid eating hard edged food like potato chips and dry bread and avoid lozenges, chewing gums, tobacco or any food you think will trigger an ulcer.
  • It is always better if you try out different home remedies for canker sores to find the perfect remedy. Then again, it is important that you pay attention to your body as if you notice canker sores tend to break out whenever you are stressed, it is time to relax! As experts are not sure what it is exact causes are, there is a chance that stress raises your chances of developing sores.

While it is difficult relating canker sores with the body’s immune system, as your immune system cannot prevent or repair sores quickly, it can be considered a contributing factor. You can improve your body immunity by eating healthy and reducing stress!

  • Gargling thrice or twice a day with coconut milk and alternatively with cold and hot water gives lots of relief.
  • As vitamin C deficiency can lead to mouth ulcers, drink as much vitamin C induced beverages as possible.

Diet recommendations

Eat more of apples as it has bacterial properties. Bananas are also important as they prevent gastric ulcers and protect the internal mucosa. Also drink more yogurt as it contains acidophilus bacteria which heels and prevent canker sores.

Meat should be consumed in moderation; instead eat more of whole grains and leafy, green vegetables. However reduce your consumption of alcohol and coffee, chewing of gum and avoid food continuing lots of sugar or salt, dairy products, cakes, oily foods and candies.


It is possible to prevent mouth ulcers and perhaps reduce their occurrences drastically by:

  • Reducing your consumption of animal fat and red meat,
  • If the mouth ulcers are a consequence of hormonal imbalance, hormone therapy helps provide relief.
  • Taking a vitamin B complex tablet every day helps treat and prevent canker sores.

In addition to this, as canker sores cannot be stopped completely, it is important you also follow the preventive measures mentioned here for some time to avoid a recurrence of the sores!

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