Canker sores are small, shallow ulcers that occur in the lining of your mouth. They are often round or oval and can range in size from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. Typically, a white or yellow center is surrounded by a reddish border. They can occur on the inner surfaces of your cheeks, lips, tongue, or palate.
This type of sore is not contagious nor caused by an infection. However, they may be triggered by trauma, such as biting your cheek or tongue or specific dental procedures. In addition, certain food items, including citrus fruits and tomatoes, can also trigger canker sores. Finally, stress and hormonal changes can also play a role in the development and spread of canker sores.
In some cases, other symptoms may also be present, including swollen lymph nodes, a fever, and a general feeling of being unwell. While these symptoms can indicate several different conditions, they may also be early warning signs of more serious illnesses such as cancer.
Canker sores typically last for 7 to 10 days and will heal on their own without treatment. Here are some home remedies and proven treatments that can help to speed up the healing process.
Despite salt aggravating the pain, a saltwater rinse can help speed up healing by drying out the sores. One of the simplest and most effective treatments for canker sores is to rinse your mouth with salt water several times a day. Instead of putting salt directly on your mouth, try making treatment with salt water. The natural minerals will soothe any pain while helping kill bacteria.
To create a saltwater rinse, dissolve one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and swish it around your mouth for one minute. Then, spit the solution out and rinse your mouth with plain water. Repeat this process several times a day until the canker sores have healed.
You can also try using baking soda instead of salt. Baking soda has powerful antibacterial properties that can help to kill the bacteria that cause canker sores. Mix one tablespoon baking soda with eight ounces of water and follow the same rinsing procedure above. For best results, rinse your mouth with salt water or baking soda after every meal.