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Relieve Cranky Canker Sores

By Jill Hamilton on July 22, 2014 in Healthy Living

woman sticking out tongue

If you've ever had a canker sore, you're not alone. In fact, more than half of the population regularly experiences these small, but painful ulcers. Less than one 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. Feeling cranky about canker sores? Good news! Here are 3 ways to relieve pain and hurry the healing:

  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. If you haven't already, switch to a fluoride toothpaste that doesn't contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), an ingredient 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 one or two weeks. However, if you're cursed with frequent canker sores, consult your dentist to discuss antibiotic options.