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Dental and Oral Health Center

Canker sore



Recently, I developed a canker sore underneath my tongue that hurts whenever I eat or move my tongue. I tried cleansing it with an alcohol-based mouth wash, peroxide, and an anti-septic mouth rinse, and unfortunately after using all three, my mouth is very dry and my canker sore is really irritated. How do I go about cleaning and speeding up the healing process of my canker sore?


Although prescriptions are available that can help heal canker sores quickly (and relatively painlessly), use of over-the-counter agents that cauterize the ulcer (things like Debacterol, Orajel) can be effective after you get over the initial stinging. The alcohol-based mouthwash also stings but is not strong enough to cauterize or "fix" the superficial tissues of the ulcer. Essentially, this form of treatment turns a sore that is caused by immune cells into a mild chemical burn that doesn't hurt as much. Overall healing, though, takes about the same amount of time. Use of covering agents (such as Zilactin, mucosal discs, or liquid bandages) can also reduce the discomfort associated with eating or drinking hot, spicy, or salty things. 

Additional information about aphthous ulcers (canker sores) can be found at the link below. Good luck!

Related Resources:

Canker Sores - Information for Patients (AAOMP)

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University