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How to prevent canker sores

Today we’re talking about kind of a gross subject, but I’m not one to shy away from the weird stuff! As someone who’s endured them for years, I’ve learned a lot about how to prevent canker sores. 

What are canker sores?

Mayo clinic says, “Canker sores…are small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in your mouth or at the base of your gums.” 

I say, canker sores are ulcers in your mouth that can last for weeks, and are always accompanied by excruciating pain. Contrary to inaccurate belief, canker sores are completely unrelated to colds sores/herpes, and are not contagious. 

The best part about canker sores (read: sarcasm) is that they have no proven cause OR cure! Canker sore sufferers mostly just have to live through the pain. There is good news, though; while researchers haven’t pinned down the exact details of canker sores, there are many suspected causes and helpful methods for prevention and treatment.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve experienced canker sores, give them a quick Google image search. I won’t be including an image here because I don’t want to unwillingly force anyone into that 🙂

Let’s get into it – Here’s how to prevent canker sores

Please note: I am not a doctor and have absolutely no medical authority, therefore I take no responsibility in whatever advice you take from these tips 🙂

Avoid soda

Queue up the sad violins! Unfortunately, soda is a known generator of canker sores. Because of this, I gave up soda 7 years ago. I tried one sip of soda during that time and developed 2 canker sores the very next day. That was enough proof for me! I’d like to say that after 7 years without soda I no longer miss it, but that’s just not true. I crave it every single day, but dodging canker sores is worth it!

Prevent injury

Mouth injuries are the leading cause of canker sores. Most canker sores pop up in areas of the mouth that were recently “traumatized.” For example, a spot in your mouth that you accidentally bit, or which was erroneously poked at by a dentistry tool.  

My worst canker sores occurred while my mouth was numbed after a cavity filling. I bit my inner lip several times without being able to feel it. As a result, I had a line of huge canker sores and couldn’t talk without pain for WEEKS. Now, whenever I get a cavity filled I take extra care not to injure my mouth while the Novocaine is wearing off!

Ice injuries immediately

If you do incur a mouth injury, put ice on it immediately. The second you feel yourself bite your cheek or otherwise hurt your mouth, get ice onto the area! This prevents swelling and reduces the development of a canker sore.

Avoid trigger foods

Another potential cause of canker sores is contact with food that your body finds triggering. For example, if you are lactose intolerant (welcome to the club!), canker sores can develop when you ingest dairy. If you are allergic to or intolerant to certain foods, avoid them! (Probably just a good idea in general).

Take B12 Vitamins

B12 vitamins have been identified as an effective canker sore therapy. I’ve been taking a 100mg B12 vitamin every day for years, and doing so has definitely reduced the occurrence of my canker sores! I used to get canker sores several time a month, and I now get a single canker sore about once every two months. I definitely attribute this reduction in canker sores to taking B12!

Use Alum on Active Sores

Here’s the secret key when it comes to treating canker sores: ALUM POWDER.

The catch to this magical treatment is that alum is toxic when ingested…and yet you have to place it in your mouth to treat a canker sore. Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

To use alum for canker sores, it’s important to take action at the first sign of a canker sore. The sooner you tackle it, the better. First, wet a q-tip in water and then dip it into powdered alum until you gather a slightly damp, pea-sized amount of alum on the q-tip. Then place the alum ball directly onto your canker sore, and leave it there for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Afterwards, spit out the alum and rinse (making sure not to swallow it). Doing this at least once a day at the first sign of a canker sore will drastically reduce and possibly even halt the development of your canker sore!

You can find Alum in the spice section of some grocery stores, or by ordering it online – I recommend this one from Amazon! Alum is also useful for making pickles, if you’re into that…

I hope this advice helps you if you’ve been suffering from canker sores! I’m wishing you a lot less pain in your future.


As an Amazon associate, this blog post contains affiliate links – any purchases made through these links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you).

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