The Chamomile Tea Bag You Used To Brew Tea Can Work Wonders On Pesky Canker Sores

·4 min read
Photo credit: Science Photo Library - Getty Images
Photo credit: Science Photo Library - Getty Images

It happens when you least expect it—one minute you’re happily crunching on some carrots or pretzels when you chomp down on your tongue, hard. Sharp, shooting pain envelopes your tongue, followed by intense throbbing. Although the initial shock and sting fades, you’re left with a battle wound in the form of an uncomfortable, tender spot: a canker sore. It'll send you googling how to get rid of canker sores.

“A canker sore, also known as an aphthous ulcer, is a small non-contagious lesion that may develop on the soft tissue inside your mouth,” says Lauren Becker, DDS, a general and cosmetic dentist in New York City. The small, round ulcers can be triggered by stress, acidic foods, and trauma in the mouth, explains Dr. Becker, like biting your tongue.

If you’ve ever had a canker sore–and it’s pretty common: Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population has had a canker sore at least once in their lifetime, according to The Cleveland Clinic. They can start as white or yellowish in color, but Dr. Becker says that the white part of a canker sore is a nerve membrane that has opened up.

Canker sores can make eating or talking uncomfortable, depending on their size and location, and typically last one to two weeks. They generally heal on their own with time, but there are ways to lessen the discomfort and promote healing. That said, there’s no magical overnight cure. Here are the best home and over-the-counter remedies to get rid of canker sores, fast.

1. Salt-Water Rinse

A natural cleansing agent, salt water can help ease discomfort and reduce inflammation (although it might sting at first). Add 1/2 a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water, and swirl and swish around your mouth from 15 to 30 seconds, then spit it out.

2. OTC Topicals

Any over-the-counter topical products containing benzocaine, an anesthetic, can relieve the pain, says Dr. Becker. Use as directed on the label.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

Hydrogen Peroxide rinse is a mild antiseptic that can help with irritation caused by canker sores. Some need to be mixed with water before using, while others are ready to use as they are. Follow the directions exactly, and be careful not to swallow the rinse.

4. Ice

Like any pain, putting ice on your canker sore can numb it. Some people find relief by sucking on an ice cube.

5. Honey

A 2014 study found honey to be effective and safe in reducing the pain and size of canker sores. Dab a small amount of honey on your canker sores four times daily, but make sure you're using unpasteurized and unfiltered honey, such as Manuka honey. It's less processed and contains more of this sweetener's natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

6. Milk of Magnesia

While milk of magnesia is commonly used as a laxative, when used orally, it also helps neutralize acid and coat the ulcer to protect it from bacteria and promote healing. Apply a small amount of milk of magnesia to the canker sore, let it sit for a few seconds, and rinse.

7. Chamomile

The azulene and levomenol compounds in chamomile can serve as a natural remedy to heal and ease pain. Soothe canker sores with a chamomile tea bag compress: Press the wet tea bag (not too hot) to your canker sore and leave it on for a few minutes.

8. Baking Soda Rinse

Similar to the salt-water rinse, baking soda helps restore the pH balance in the mouth and help heal canker sores. Dissolve half to one teaspoon of baking soda into warm water and swoosh it around for about 30 seconds, then spit it out.

9. Orthodontic Waxes

Orthodontic hardware (think braces, retainers, bands, etc.) can cause irritation in the mouth and cause canker sores to develop. Make sure you have some orthodontic wax on hand to help prevent and protect the inner tissue.

10. Soft Food

Your mouth is healing, so avoid acidic and crunchy foods such as coffee, chocolate, spicy and salty foods, citrus fruits, nuts, seeds, and tomatoes. Instead, opt for softer, plain foods like eggs, mac and cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.

11. Cold Fluids

Drinking cold fluids, like water, an electrolyte drink, or a frozen smoothie, may feel good on your tender canker sores. Use a straw to prevent the liquid from touching and irritating the canker sore.

12. Soft Toothbrushes

Avoid additional irritation to the mouth area by using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush gently and softly, being careful around the area where the canker sore is.

13. Vitamins

Sometimes a vitamin deficiency can cause canker sores, so load up on the B12.

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