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How to Reduce Canker Sores

By Caroline Jacobson on October 17, 2017 in Dental Health

If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you’re not alone. More than half of the population regularly experiences these small, painful ulcers. But stopping a canker sore is in your control.

Less than 1 centimeter in diameter, canker sores often affect the soft areas of the mouth, including the tongue, cheek, and lips. Their specific cause is still unknown, but many experts believe bacteria and viral infections play a significant role.

Here are 3 ways to stop a canker sore.

  1. Avoid eating spicy or citrus-based foods. These will irritate the sores and cause increased discomfort.
  2. Apply over-the-counter ointments that contain phenol. There are several medicated ointments available at drug stores. Some medicines help numb the pain of the canker sore, while others protect the surface of the sore from irritation.
  3. Switch to a toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a chemical found to cause and aggravate canker sores. Visit to see a list of SLS-free products.

Fortunately, canker sores aren’t contagious and typically heal on their own after 1-2 weeks. If you’re cursed with frequent canker sores, consult your dentist to discuss antibiotic options to stop canker sores.

stop a canker sore

But, canker sores aren’t the only sore that could make you cranky. Cold sores, like canker sores, can cause discomfort.

Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that appear inside or outside the mouth. They are caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) and are contagious. Because the herpes virus stays in the body even after the cold sore goes away, it has the potential to pop up again.

How can you make cold sores go away?

  1. Manage it by doing your best to stay healthy and avoid situations that lead to new sores like stress, heavy sun exposure, and a fever or other illness.
  2. Consult your doctor about your options, including antiviral drugs and ointments.

Normally, cold sores go away in 7-10 days. Many children get the virus unknowingly from a family member or friend. So, if you get cold sores, don’t share things like:

  • Utensils
  • Lip balms

Contact a doctor or dentist if you have an outbreak of cold sores for relief.