Imagine you are eating a big, juicy steak cooked to perfection. You cut out a chunk of steak place it in your mouth. The first bite is delicious, and the second bite is even better.
But then, in your fervor for chewing, you forget where the steak ends and where your cheek begins. Before you know it–chomp!–a bite that was intended for that tasty piece of steak caught your cheek. It’s painful and irritating, but you can get past the pain.
The next day, your wound is healing well, but unfortunately during lunch you bite down on it again. Now it’s official: you have a full blown canker sore. While not all canker sores are self-inflicted, it’s good to know what causes canker sores and some remedies you can implement to promote healing while reducing pain.
For the most part, canker sores are more of a nuisance than a health issue. They can appear on the inside of your lips, cheeks and on your tongue. They can either be caused by trauma (like biting on the inside of your cheek or braces irritating your mouth) or other factors like stress and the types of food you eat.
Avoid agitating your canker sore
- Try not to hit it with your toothbrush.
- Steer clear of foods that will annoy your canker sore, including crunchy, dry, or acidic foods–especially citrus!
- If you have braces, apply wax where the canker sore comes in contact with them. If your braces or dentures continue to cause discomfort and canker sores, your dentist may be able to make the proper adjustments to fix the issue.
Since most canker sores go away on their own, the best thing you can do is manage the pain
- Gargle with salt water. Mix about ¼ to ½ teaspoons of salt with eight ounces of warm water. Put about two to three ounces of water into your mouth at a time and swish it around for 20-30 seconds, then spit it out. Continue to do this until all of the water is gone.
- Consider using a local numbing agent. Products like Oragel can be applied to the canker sore and numb it for temporary relief. These types of products contain benzocaine, so please read all cautions before applying.
- Take over-the-counter pain relief medication, like ibuprofen.