Have you ever had a spot inside your mouth, perhaps on the inside of your cheek or tongue, that was painful and white? Most likely, this was a canker sore.
For some people, it can be difficult to get rid of canker sores quickly and naturally.
Here are some easy-to-apply solutions that anyone can use to help quickly get rid of canker sores.
Canker sores also called aphthous ulcers, are small, shallow sores on the inside of the mouth. They appear most commonly on the inner cheek, the tongue surface, and even the gum tissue.
These painful open sores tend to have a reddish inflamed ring around the sensitive white inner surface.
To understand how to naturally get rid of canker sores, it’s helpful to first briefly discuss the circumstances that provoke their creation. That way, we can try to avoid them going forward.
Western medicine hasn’t discovered the root cause of canker sores yet. However, it has identified several contributing factors that can increase the risk of developing these pesky sores.
The main triggers for canker sores include:
- Nutrient deficiency
- Acidic foods
- Trauma to cheek from biting it, braces, or ill-fitting dentures
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Gut malabsorption issues
- Poor oral hygiene
As you can see, canker sores show up when the body is under some form of stress, whether that’s psychological, nutritional, or physical trauma.
What can be done to get rid of canker sores quickly?
Navigating the path to optimal oral health often involves applying strategies both ‘in the mouth’ and the form of ‘whole body immune support’.
Getting rid of canker sores is no different.
Below you’ll find several ‘in the mouth’ and system-wide strategies to help you along your path.
We start with some simpler strategies. If you want to ‘step up your game’ when it comes to addressing and preventing canker sores (or if you’re motivated by some serious pain from recurring flare-ups) you may want to try some of the later ideas as well.
1. Keep your mouth clean.
Health-giving oral hygiene is about balancing our oral flora and keeping the mouth clean, but not sterile.
The goal isn’t to create a ‘scorched earth’ effect and eradicate all microbes in the mouth (after all, some of them help to support our health!).
Instead, we’re trying to use oral hygiene products and strategies that help reduce the risk of ‘thug bugs’ colonizing in the mouth. Why? These thug bugs are implicated with issues like tooth decay and gum disease, and they also encourage an acidic oral pH, which slows the healing of canker sores.
Learning how to brush your teeth, floss consciously, and clean your tongue are all excellent strategies to reduce the thug bug numbers and support optimal oral health.
It’s also important to only use products with ingredients that are designed to help support, heal, and soothe (without any fillers, coloring, or other junk that might wind up irritating the mouth and/or body).
Another (ancient) strategy that helps maintain a clean mouth and encourages a balanced oral pH is oil pulling. We dedicated an entire article to this oral hygiene strategy that has stood the test of time: How oil pulling helps improve oral health and whole-body wellness.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive on oil pulling, when you should or shouldn’t do it, and how to do it properly, we invite you to download our FREE Ultimate Oil Pulling Guidebook here.
2. Eat consciously.
If you have a particular spot where you tend to regularly chomp on your cheek (which can easily become a canker sore afterward), be sure you increase your awareness while chewing.
Eating while reading or while watching TV are common ways to increase your risk of accidentally biting your cheek (or tongue–OUCH).
Once the tissue is traumatized by a chomp, the risk of developing a canker sore in that area goes up substantially.
3. Reduce acidic foods.
Speaking of eating, reducing acidic foods can help create a more balanced oral pH, which can help canker sores to heal.
I have to be conscious when a plate of ripe pineapple is in the house, as I’ve found that if I eat more than a few chunks, my risk of canker sores goes way up.
If you like to consume naturally acidic foods for their alkalinizing benefit in the body, we invite you to check out our article on how to drink kombucha and not destroy your teeth. In it, we share tips for how to benefit from naturally acidic foods (like lemon water or apple cider vinegar) without creating damage in the mouth.
4. Cut your sugar intake WAY back.
Sugar consumption can play a role in canker sores and a bunch of other whole-body issues. It contributes to nutritional deficiency, raises stress by increasing blood sugar fluctuation, causes the mouth pH to be acidic, and directly undermines our body’s ability to heal itself.
This is especially the case when it comes to sweet, between-meal snacks (and beverages!)–they spike your blood sugar and suppress our hunger sensations for real nourishment (which, over time, makes us more nutritionally deficient).
If you have to pick just one action from this list, cut the sweets.
5. Eliminate wheat and other gluten-containing foods from your diet.
Researchers have found a very interesting correlation between semi-regular canker sores, IBD (irritable bowel disorder), and celiac disease.
A canker sore is an ulcer in the mouth, and the mouth is the start of the digestive tract.
So, it makes sense that if you are sensitive to gluten (as is the case for people with either IBD or celiac), then canker sores in the mouth might be a sign of what’s happening ‘downstream’ in the small intestine.
If you get canker sores fairly regularly, take note of the triggers that seem to stress your system.
Once you identify foods or other potential imbalance-causing stimuli, you can avoid these triggers and help prevent painful canker sores from erupting again.