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The precise cause of canker sores is unfortunately still unknown. Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not linked to the herpes virus or contagious. They can show up on tongue, inside of cheeks or lips, or on the gums and usually last between 7-14 days. Different variables can cause the onset including stress, mouth injury or irritation, or sensitivity to some liquids, food, mouthwashes, or medications. Below are some tips to help prevent and remedy this unwanted visitor.

One of the best ways to not have a canker sore pop up is to know how to prevent them. If you start to feel a localized tingling or burning sensation then think of what was going on prior – did you eat/drink something spicy or acidic, have you been under a lot of stress, brush really roughly, or bite the inside your cheek? Start by eating plain yogurt with live cultures as this can help balance out the bacteria in your mouth. Gargling hot salt water or putting an ice cube on the spot can help sooth the discomfort.

There are many over the counter pain medications, topical ointments, or mouthwashes that will help alleviate the pain or speed up recovery. Most of them include pain relief, numbing and antibiotic properties. There are also many at home remedies that are worth a shot. Applying baking soda, honey, or coconut oil to the area and/or drinking Chamomile tea or placing the tea bag on area couldn’t hurt as they all have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agents to speed up the healing and help avoid infection. Avoid spicy or acidic food/drinks, chewing gum, or irritating that area with a toothbrush etc., until the sore has run its course.

Please contact your Primary Doctor or Us if you are experiencing these symptoms:

-Unusually large sores

-Sores that last 3 weeks or longer

-Sores are spreading

-If you are avoiding trigger foods and taking over-the-counter pain medication but are still experiencing a lot of pain

-Difficulty drinking enough fluids

-A high fever along with the sores

-Physical sluggishness

-Swollen lymph nodes


It is common for 3-4 canker sores a year, but if they occur more often then a doctor visit could help to see if there is an underlying health issue causing the outbreaks. We may not ever be able to permanently get rid of canker sores, but together we will work to keep their appearances down to a minimum!