Canker sores can appear as small bumps but can cause a lot of pain. Canker sores develop in the inner side of your mouth, making it difficult and painful to carry out everyday activities like eating, drinking, talking. These ulcers can appear any time without any definite reason and usually go away on their own within a few weeks. 

If waiting for ulcers to heal seems like a daunting task, here are a few home remedies that can help get rid of canker sores inside your mouth. 

What Is a Canker Sore?

Canker sores appear as white-yellowish tiny ulcers that form inside the mouth, including your gums, tongue, or inner side of lips or cheeks. They are circular in shape. Typical symptoms of these mouth lesions include a tingling or burning sensation on and near the ulcer. Citric and acidic foods are likely to elevate soreness and discomfort. One fact about canker sores that will make you less anxious: canker sores are not contagious. This means that if you or your loved ones have a canker sore, it won’t affect others.   

The following symptoms usually accompany canker sores:

  • Burning sensation inside the mouth
  • Tiny yellow or white ulcer(s) in the mouth
  • The sore has a red boundary around it
  • Fever
  • Feeling nauseous 
  • Inflammation of lymph nodes

10 Common Causes of Canker Sore

It is difficult to judge any particular cause of canker sores, but they can form at the time of their choice. Having said that, there are a few things that can trigger canker sores. Next time you end up with an ulcer in your mouth, try to remember what might have triggered it so you can make a quick decision on what remedy to apply first.  

  • Deficiency of iron, zinc, vitamin B-12, or folic acid
  • Oral injury due to dental procedure
  • Ill-fitted dentures or braces that constantly touch and irritate the soft tissues of the mouth
  • Cuts on tongue or cheeks due to biting
  • Using toothpaste or oral rinses that contain sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Hormonal changes 
  • Allergic reaction
  • Hypersensitivity to foods like nuts, eggs, cheese, citrus fruits, spicy food items 
  • Quitting smoking

Home Remedies To Soothe Canker Sores

Here are some effective natural ways that can help get rid of canker sores. 

1. Saltwater rinse

One of the most common and useful remedies for many oral problems is rinsing your mouth with saltwater. Although it may cause pain for oral lesions, the saltwater rinse can help dry out canker sores real quickly.

How to use:

  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt in half cup of warm water
  • Swirl the salty solution in your mouth for around 20-30 seconds, then spit out
  • Repeat multiple times a day 

 2. Baking soda rinse

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is another ingredient found in every kitchen and can help treat canker sores. Baking soda helps restore the balance of pH in the mouth and minimizes swelling, and this, in return, can help relieve mouth lesions.  

How to use:

  • Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup of water.
  • Swirl the salty solution in your mouth for around 20-30 seconds, then spit out
  • Repeat multiple times a day 

Swallowing baking soda won’t cause you any harm, but it’s really salty, so it’s better not to swallow it. 

3. Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide helps cure mouth ulcers fast by minimizing mouth bacteria and cleaning the sore.  

How to use:

  • Dilute a 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide with equal parts of water.
  • Dip a cotton swab into the mixture 
  • Apply the mixture to the painful area several times a day

Another option is using a diluted form of hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse. Swish the mixture for at least 1 minute before spitting out. 

4. Alum powder

Alum powder made from potassium aluminum sulfate is used as a preservative for food items. Due to its astringent properties, it can help dry mouth sores by shrinking tissues.  

How to use:

  • Add a few ounces of alum powder to a drop of water to make a mixture. 
  • Apply the paste onto the sores and leave it for a minute or two
  • Now rinse your mouth thoroughly with water
  • Repeat daily until your canker sore is no longer visible 

5. Honey

Honey is full of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s an effective way to treat canker sores. Honey minimizes the size, pain, and swelling of a mouth lesion and can also prevent secondary infection. Apply honey to the sores 3-4 times a day for best and quick results.  

6. Milk of magnesia

Milk of magnesia neutralizes acid, which means it has the properties to change the pH in your mouth. The alteration in the pH levels of the mouth makes it difficult for bacteria to thrive. Magnesium hydroxide forms a layer around the sore that minimizes irritation and soothes pain.    

 How to use:

  • Apply a minor amount of milk of magnesia to your lesion.
  • Let it sit for a few seconds before rinsing.
  • Repeat it 2-3 times daily

7. Coconut oil

According to research, coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that make it a great remedy for canker sores caused due to bacteria. Coconut oil also prevents the further spread of disease. With its great anti-inflammatory abilities, it helps minimize soreness and redness around the area. 

Take a generous amount of coconut oil on the fingertip or cotton ball and apply it to the lesion. Repeat this multiple times a day until the sore heals.  

8. Echinacea

Enchina can boost your immune system and heal wounds, making it another great method to get rid of canker sores and prevent further formation. 

How to use:

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of liquid echinacea to an equal amount of water. Warm water is better.
  • For 1-2 minutes, swish the solution in your mouth
  • Spit out or swallow the mixture.

Another way to use echinacea is by making tea out of it and rinsing your mouth with it. Whatever method you choose, repeat three times a day. 

9. Chamomile compress

Chamomile is a terrific natural way to soothe soreness and treat wounds. The two compounds in German chamomile: azulene and levomenol, have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. You can use a chamomile tea bag compress to relieve canker sore. 

How to use:

  • Make the tea bag wet by dipping it in water. Apply it on the lesion and leave for a few minutes
  • Repeat the hack 3-4 times a day
  • Another option is rinsing your mouth with chamomile tea 

 10. Zinc lozenges

Canker sores may grow inside your mouth if you have a weak immune system that you can overcome with zinc. Zinc is an immunity booster, and regularly taking zinc lozenges can assist your immune system fight bacteria that can cause canker sores. If you have a lesion in your mouth, taking zinc can also help speed up the healing process. You can easily purchase zinc lozenges online or at drug stores.

11. Rinse with apple cider vinegar (ACV)

ACV can cure a lot of health issues, and one such is canker sores. It kills the bacteria that make the sores painful. As mentioned above, acidic foods can irritate the canker sores for some individuals, so you should use this remedy carefully.  

How to use:

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of ACV and a cup of water.
  • Rinse your mouth with this mixture for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Spit it out, and rinse your mouth.
  • Do it multiple times a day.

Multiple sources suggest using a cotton swab to apply ACV directly to the canker sores. This method can work effectively for some people and speed up the recovery, but it can make things worse and cause further soreness and discomfort for others. 

Whatever method you use, thoroughly rinse your mouth after using ACV, so you don’t hurt your tooth enamel. 

12. Rinsing with sage mouthwash

Many people benefit from sage tea to soothe oral swelling. With its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antibacterial properties, rinsing your mouth with sage tea can help treat several dental issues. You can also use it to get rid of painful canker sores. 

Either you can spend a few dollars at the pharmacy to buy sage mouthwash or make it yourself at home: 

How to use:

  •  ½ tablespoon of sage leaves to boiling water.
  • Steep for 4-5 minutes.
  • Stain and let the solution cool.
  • Swish the solution for a few minutes and then spit.
  • Swallowing the rinse won’t do any harm.

13. DGL mouthwash

Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) has anti-inflammatory properties and helps soothe stomach sores. 

How to use:

  • Mix the powder of one DGL capsule in a glass of warm water.
  • Swish the rinse for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Spit it out.

DGL also comes in the form of a mouth patch that helps heal canker sores by shrinking them. Place the patch on the lesion and let it sit for about half an hour. Ask your dentist or doctor where to find DGL patches.     

14. Icing

Numbing the sore will help relieve painful sensations. Suck on ice lolly or apply ice chips to the lesions to soothe pain and discomfort. 

15. Prescription Medications

For canker sores that have been infected or if they keep coming back, prescription medication may be necessary. Your dentist may prescribe tetracycline suspension (liquid). Swish the medication inside your mouth for 3-5 minutes before swallowing it. This treatment may not be suitable for children as tetracycline can permanently stain developing teeth.  

When to see your dentist

Most of the time, canker sores don’t indicate any severe health issues and heal without any treatment. But if the sores aren’t getting any better or not responding to home remedies, you should consult your dentist. Contact Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics today if: 

  • Canker sores develop regularly. 
  • Sores lasting for more than 3 weeks. 
  • Sores are making eating and swallowing difficult.
  • You’ve started feeling sick.
  • Canker sores frequently develop over a long period of time.

Sometimes canker sores can be a symptom of health problems such as gastrointestinal conditions. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, see your doctor.       

  • Stomachache
  • Fever
  • Feeling weak due to unexplained reasons
  • Irritation in the eyes 
  • Rashes or sore on other parts of the body 

If your lesions have turned red and are causing pain, they have been infected.   


Canker sores can cause pain and irritation if they keep coming back. Monitoring when they develop and what triggers them can help you understand the underlying cause that you can avoid in the future.  

While you wait for the canker sores to heal on their own, you can opt for several OTC solutions and home remedies to get rid of the soreness and discomfort. 

Learning about natural home remedies means you can manage canker sores and mouth ulcers right after they develop. 

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