Treating Canker Sores/Mouth Ulcers Naturally

Treating Canker Sores/Mouth Ulcers Naturally

What are canker sores

Mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores, are small, painful lesions that form on the soft tissues of the mouth or at the base of the gums. These ulcers are painful and can make simple actions like eating, drinking and talking difficult. Women, adolescents and those with a family history of mouth ulcers are more susceptible to developing mouth ulcers. Unlike cold sores, canker sores aren’t contagious and disappear on their own within one to two weeks. Check with your doctor if your mouth ulcer is unusually large or painful or doesn't seem to go away.

How long do canker sores last?

Scientifically regarded as aphthous ulcers, it strikes in your mouth or gums. It can be especially painful and difficult to talk or eat, but heal on their own within a couple of weeks. While there are home remedies you can try to hasten the healing process, it won’t cure canker sores overnight. There are no significant studies on home remedies for canker sores so proceed with caution. Following are some home remedies you can try:

Salt water rinse

There’s probably some truth to this remedy seeing as it has been handed down through generations. It might be painful but may help dry out canker sores.

To use:

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1/2 cup of warm water.
  2. Swirl this solution in your mouth for 15 to 30 seconds, then spit it out.
  3. Repeat every few hours as needed.

Baking soda rinse

Use baking soda to rinse your mouth as it is thought to restore pH balance and reduce inflammation, which as a result, may heal canker sores. Baking soda won’t cause harm if swallowed but it’s very salty so try not to do so.

To use:

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup of water.
  2. Swirl this solution in your mouth for 15 to 30 seconds, then spit it out.
  3. Repeat every few hours as needed.


The exact cause of canker sores is unknown but it could be attributed to Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria or inflammatory bowel disease. According to research, live probiotic cultures such as lactobacillus in yoghurt may help rid H. pylori and treat other types of inflammatory bowel disease. Theoretically, if either of the former conditions are the cause of your canker sores, eating yogurt that contains live probiotic cultures may help. Eat at least 1 cup of yogurt everyday to prevent or treat mouth ulcers.


Known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory abilities, honey is said to be effective in reducing canker sore pain, size, and redness, as well as preventing secondary infection. Bear in mind that all honey isn’t created equal. The store-bought honey is pasteurised and doesn’t contain much nutrients. Look for unpasteurized, unfiltered honey like Premium Tualang Honey, which is less processed and retains its healing properties. Apply honey directly to the sore four times daily.

Virgin Coconut oil

One of the many multitudes of virgin coconut oil's benefits is its antimicrobial abilities. It may fight off the bacteria that cause mouth ulcers and prevent them from spreading. It works great to treat pain and reduce redness too, due to its inherent anti-inflammatory properties. Apply a generous amount of coconut oil to the sore and reapply as often as needed until your canker sore is gone.

Milk of magnesia

Milk of magnesia contains magnesium hydroxide, which is a naturally occurring mineral. It’s typically used as a laxative. If used orally, it may change the pH in your mouth so the sore can’t thrive while preventing irritation and relieving pain at the same time.

To use:

  1. Apply a small amount of milk of magnesia to your canker sore.
  2. Let it sit for several seconds, then rinse.
  3. Repeat up to three times daily.

Chamomile compress

Chamomile can be used as a canker sore remedy for its anti-inflammatory properties. The  German chamomile contains two compounds with anti-inflammatory and antiseptic abilities — azulene and levomenol. Soak a chamomile tea bag in warm water and apply directly to the ulcer with the intention to soothe it. You can also rinse your mouth with freshly brewed chamomile tea three to four times daily, once it’s cooled.

Apple cider vinegar mouthwash

Leave it to apple cider vinegar (ACV) to cure just about anything. The acidic nature of ACV is believed to combat the bacterias that cause and irritate canker sore. Use ACV with caution because acidic food may worsen mouth ulcers in some people. You can apply it directly using a cotton swab as it may decrease healing time in some people, but  could cause pain and irritation for others. To be safe, rinse your mouth after using ACV to prevent tooth enamel damage.

To use:

  1. Combine 1 teaspoon of ACV and 1 cup of water.
  2. Swish this mixture around your mouth for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Spit it out, and rinse your mouth thoroughly.
  4. Repeat daily.

Watermelon frost

Widely used in China for the relief from oral pain and mouth ulcers, watermelon frost is touted as an effective cure in traditional Chinese medicine, though there isn't hard evidence. Sold as a powder, tablet, and spray, it’s meant to be applied directly to the sore for pain relief and quicker healing. You can buy watermelon frost from an Asian herb store, online, or try making your own. Take heed that high levels of mercury have been reported in watermelon frost, so be sure to purchase a quality product.

Tips to prevent mouth ulcers

There are many methods one can employ to prevent canker sores which includes staying away from acidic fruits like pineapple, grapefruit, oranges, or lemon, as well as nuts, chips, or anything spicy. Whole grains and alkaline (non-acidic) fruits and vegetables would do you better. Ensure to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and get a dose of daily multivitamins.

Another essential tip is to be mindful when you’re chewing your food to avoid accidental bites. Reducing stress and maintaining good oral hygiene — flossing daily and brushing after meals also may help. It’s also essential to get sufficient sleep to prevent mouth ulcers and a host of other illnesses too.

Some suggest avoiding using soft bristle toothbrushes and mouthwashes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. If you have dental or orthodontic mouth devices, you can request your dentist provide you with wax to cover the sharp edges.