Author: Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG
Painful, irritating canker sores are common, and they seem to pop up out of nowhere. Is there anything you can do at home to ease the pain of these lesions and hasten healing?
Fortunately there are steps you can take to prevent and relieve the discomfort of canker sores. Let’s look at what you can do to prevent them:
- Make sure you live a healthy lifestyle. Get enough sleep. Get some exercise. Enjoy fresh air. All of these self care methods enhance immune system health.
- Speaking of immune health, in order to prevent canker sores, minimize stressors in your life as much as possible. Plan and schedule activities that are pleasurable and make you laugh. Lowered stress and especially laughter help to strengthen your immune system so your body can fight off infections that may appear as canker sores.
- Practice excellent oral hygiene. Use a soft toothbrush to avoid irritating gums. Floss between teeth and clean your tongue and gums at least once per day. Clean your toothbrush with peroxide after each use. See your dentist regularly so any sources of irritation in your mouth may be addressed quickly. Possible sources of irritation include ill fitting dentures, braces, retainers or partial plates. Get regular dental cleanings.
- Stay hydrated. A dry mouth is more likely to be susceptible to trauma from hard or crunchy foods.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They are rich sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which reduce bacteria and strengthen your immune system.
- Consider taking an acidophilus supplement or eat yogurt or kefir regularly.
- Include members of the onion family, mushrooms and a variety of herbs and spices in your diet.
- Consider taking a vitamin and mineral supplement and L-lysine. A high potency formula rich in vitamins C and B complex is an excellent choice. L-lysine deficiency may precipitate canker sore formation.
If you do get a canker sore, try the following tips:
- Rinse your mouth at least four times per day with warm salt water. It will help your mouth to stay clean and aids in healing.
- Avoid smoking, chewing gum or eating foods that irritate the sore area. Instead, try sucking on zinc lozenges. Zinc helps your body to heal itself. Do not use the lozenges if they cause discomfort.
- Use a remedy containing natural essential oils that will enhance immune health, fight infection and relieve pain. Native Remedies makes an excellent preparation called CankErase. Follow the instructions on the label for best results.
- Consider using the herbs echinacea, barberry root, and burdock, goldenseal or Oregon grape root to enhance healing.
- Limit or avoid the consumption of meat if you have a canker sore. Instead, consume tofu, tempeh, kefir and protein rich whole grains such as quinoa.
Prevention is the best strategy for avoiding the discomfort canker sores cause, although sometimes they occur despite your best efforts. Incorporate these preventative tips and home remedies to minimize the chances of canker sores forming and expediting healing if they do occur.