Q. Are there any home remedies for mouth ulcers? They can be quite painful and sometimes take a long time to heal.

A. The official name for this condition is aphthous ulcers. They are commonly known as canker sores, and no one quite knows what causes them and why some people are especially susceptible. Although doctors have tried a number of pharmaceutical treatments, none stand out as superior.

One randomized study compared 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily to placebo for six months (Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology, Feb. 2014). The 25 people taking the omega-3 supplement had significantly fewer mouth ulcers and less discomfort than the 25 assigned to placebo therapy.

Other remedies include drinking a glass of buttermilk once or twice daily, taking L-lysine supplements, swishing an ounce of sauerkraut juice in the mouth or applying aloe vera gel to the sore. Eating a kiwi fruit every other day works for many people.

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  1. Gerald H
    Reply

    Urgent Warning Information about a dangerous suggestion.
    On Feb. 18 2014 Liz H suggested a remedy for mouth Canker “swishing with a mix of 50% hydrogen peroxide and water twice a day.” Since the writer is not specifying the strength of the chemical she is diluting. A 50% Hydrogen Hyperoxide is lethal and ultra caustic
    chemical. The writer perhaps referred to a 50% water dilution of the normally commercially sold 3% Peroxide of Hydrogen solution sold in Drug or other stores.
    Diluted 50% would be 1.5% peroxide soulution which is quite strong already for the sensitive tissue of the mouth. I see it on the 3% Hydrogen Peroxide Bottle that they
    recommend to dilute it 8X for oral applications!!!!!
    The net result of that is less than 0.4% (about 1/2%)
    So do not even think about 50% Hydrogen Peroxyde unless you want to be hospitalized with burning of the inside of your mouth.

  2. judi
    Reply

    I immediately take B complex and it seems to work every time. A dentist friend of mine also told me that folate works.

  3. Shirley E.
    Reply

    My 91 year old friend tells me that she takes one L-Lysine tablet every day for canker sores and has not had any more trouble with them for about 40 years.

  4. Bob P
    Reply

    an old remedy my Mom taught me was to eat a banana very slowly, holding the fruit against the sore for a while, repeatedly. It is a bit painful, but works.

  5. karen
    Reply

    I just started doing “oil pulling” and it seems to be working. I’ve tried several of the oils recommended but they make me gag. Coconut oil is the only one I can handle right now so that is what I’ve been using.

  6. GC
    Reply

    I used to get them ALL the time when I was younger, (maybe I out grew them) but once when one was super painful a pharmacist recommended a stiptic pencil (like the ones men would use after shaving) and apply that once or twice. It would sting but then it quit hurting and healed up almost immediately.

  7. Wendy
    Reply

    dmw – I don’t know how many you take, but you might want to look at the damage eating a lot of antacids can do (The Tums website is a good place to research it) and possibly choose another remedy.

  8. WP
    Reply

    When I get a canker sore, I take a cotton ball and soak it with Listerine. I hold the soaked cotton ball on the canker sore for a couple minutes. I do this twice a day for a couple days, if needed. Canker sore quickly goes away.

  9. Pat
    Reply

    I would have fever blisters in the corner of my mouth after dental work. After mentioning this to my dentist he switched to a non latex glove and I have not had this problem anymore.

  10. Penny H.
    Reply

    I had the same problem. Then I noticed that when I had an alcoholic drink my ulcers got worse. I’m not talking about a drunken binge, just an occasional drink. I quit drinking any form of alcohol although I occasionally use it in cooking. No more ulcers.

  11. SG.
    Reply

    My dentist recommended I swish with Hydrogen Peroxide when I have a canker sore. It tastes pretty awful but clears them up in a day or two.

  12. josie-v
    Reply

    Canker sores were common for me. I also had inflamed gums despite low-dose antibiotic. I’d have a yearly strep or sinus infection, and also had granuloma annulare off and on. At a routine physical with a complete blood work-up (just because I was getting older — 35!), they discovered I had a low white blood cell count. It was monitored and found to be low all the time. I had a bone marrow test to rule out leukemia.
    Finally, I was diagnosed with chronic idiopathic neutropenia (a chronically low white blood cell count of unknown cause). After a few years I got in a registry that provides Neupogen. There were results within weeks. No more inflamed, bleeding gums. A cold is usually my worst illness; no more infections. Many people with neutropenia experience canker sores. If you have other symptoms, you might have CBC blood work done when you aren’t ill. I probably had it for years but only had blood work done when I was ill, when you would expect white blood cell count to be low.

  13. Diane S.
    Reply

    I also find L-Lysine to be great. Also I change the toothpaste I am using, for some reason it causes the sores. The best I have found is Auromere Mint free, which I am now using all the time. I have no affiliation with the Company.

  14. Claude Badley
    Reply

    I have had great results with L-lysine. I get canker sores when I’m really stressed out. They are awful, painful, ugly. At the first little “tingle” that I’m getting one I find some L-lysine. If I take it soon enough the sore never develops. If I miss that window the sore develops but it is typically very small and gone in a day or so. Good luck!

  15. Claude Badley
    Reply

    I have had great results with L-lysine. I get canker sores when I’m really stressed out. They are awful, painful, ugly. At the first little “tingle” that I’m getting one I find some L-lysine. If I take it soon enough the sore never develops. If I miss that window the sore develops but it is typically very small and gone in a day or so. Good luck!

  16. dmw
    Reply

    I chew tums or antacids several times a day for mouth ulcers. Since mouth acids seems to eat into the ulcers and make them worse, the tums seems to neutralize the acid and coat the sore. Helps!!

  17. CB
    Reply

    I used to have frequent, painful canker sores, as did my daughter. Then we discovered that they appeared after we ate walnuts. We have avoided walnuts for years and haven’t had any canker sores (except when temptation overcomes us and we eat some walnuts). There are several people in my family for whom this is true.

  18. LIz H
    Reply

    I have had aphthous ulcers for well over 20 years. The best prevention I have found is swishing with a mix of 50% hydrogen peroxide and water twice a day. When I get a sore, I swish more frequently during the day and it seems to go away more rapidly. Liz H

  19. Anne leavitt
    Reply

    My dentist in 1980 told me to rub a canker sore with a cue tip or cotton ball…it works everytime

  20. Wendy
    Reply

    Applying a dab of dry cream of tartar to the sore a few times a day has always worked quickly for me. Sores are gone within two days, at most, and stop hurting when powder is applied. I have no idea why, but it’s always worked.

  21. lar
    Reply

    I had canker sores for many years as a young teenager. I used some kind of sticky sweet over the counter medicine for it. I put a few drops in my mouth, swished it around and they stopped hurting. Was really a mystery but I think they appeared after I ate acidic things like oranges or hard candy. I finally outgrew them but not the memories of them. OUCH!!!

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