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What are canker sores and how to treat them?

Canker sores are a common and often harmless oral health issue that mostly doesn’t lead to any serious problems. This article gives you the basics on how to identify and treat canker sores and when to seek professional advice.

What are canker sores?

Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, are little welt-like spots that appear on the lips, tongue or inner lining of the mouth. They sometimes look like tiny craters with a small, shallow dip between circular edges. They can be either simple - appearing a few times a year and generally healing within a week – or complex: recurrent or due to an underlying medical issue. 

Now you know what a canker sore is, if you want to learn more about the causes of canker sores, check out our article here

Zendium How to treat a canker sore on tongue

Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, are little welt-like spots that appear inside the mouth.

How to treat a canker sore?

Whether you have ulcers under your tongue or elsewhere in the mouth, they often go away on their own. However, there are a few things you can do that may help get rid of them faster. Try out some of these canker sore treatment suggestions and see which one works best for you:

  • Use a protective paste. Ask your pharmacist for a recommendation. These are gels or creams that you put over the ulcer to protect it from further irritation.
  • Drink cool fluids through a straw. This reduces the cold rush on the affected area and may decrease irritation.
  • Apply ice directly to the canker sore. This can also help relieve the pain, just do it a few seconds at a time.
  • Rinse your mouth with saline water. Mix one to two teaspoons of salt in a glass of warm water and rinse a few times a day.
  • Avoid salty, spicy, or acidic food and hot drinks.  Eating these types of food may irritate a mouth ulcer, so it is best to wait until the ulcer has healed*.
Zendium Natural remedy for canker sore

How to prevent ulcers from coming back?

If your chosen treatment for canker sores was successful, there are also a few things you can do to prevent them from returning in the future. While nothing is guaranteed to get rid of them forever these tips might make them less likely to come back:

  • Avoid irritating food. If you have canker sores on your tongue, lips or inner cheeks avoid foods which may irritate your mouth. Rough food like crusty bread or crisps, spicy or very hot items are all worth avoiding. The citric acid found in lemons, limes and other fruits can also irritate or cause pain.
  • Don’t chew gum. Like some foods, chewing gum may irritate your gums. So, if you’re prone to ulcers try cutting down.
  • Adapt your brushing technique. One great mouth ulcer treatment and prevention method is to brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush. This may prevent further irritation and maintain good oral hygiene.
  • Switch toothpaste. Choose a mild and gentle toothpaste like Zendium Complete Protection to avoid irritating mouth ulcers further.

Read more about prevention techniques in our article about recurring canker sores

By following these few simple tricks, you can reduce the risk of canker sores coming back and have some useful canker sores remedies ready in case they do. However, if your sores are particularly large, painful, recurrent or long lasting get some professional advice from your dentist or doctor.


The advice in this article does not constitute medical advice, it is solely available for information purposes. We recommend that you consult your dentist if you are experiencing any mouth issues.