Tips and Techniques for Preventing Canker Sores
Canker sores (mouth ulcers) plague millions. Just how does one prevent these terrible mouth sores?
We have spent countless hours researching this question.
Below we discuss factors related to canker sores (mouth ulcers) and how these
factors may influence the number of canker sores you experience. This information is based on review of research
literature, experience with our patients, and feedback we have received from you the viewer. We hope this helps to
bring some relief.
(canker sores = Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis = RAS = aphthous ulcers = oral ulcers = mouth ulcers)
Watch What You Eat
It appears that what we eat may influence whether or not we come down with an episode of canker
sores. Some people have allergies to certain foods. Consumption of these foods can lead to canker sores. Studies show that elimination of these
offending foods can sometimes dramatically reduce the number of canker sore
episodes a person experiences.
Drs. Wray, Vlagopoulos, and Siraganian (1) , for example, illustrated a
relationship between the following foods and canker sores :
buckwheat, whole wheat, rye, barley, chocolate, nuts, shellfish, soy, tomatoes, apples, and
In a separate study (2), Drs. Hay and Reade illustrated
that diets which lacked certain foods resulted in improvements in 42 percent of the patients involved in the
study. Foods eliminated in these diets included:
Foods Associated With Canker Sores
figs, cheese, tomatoes, lemon, vinegar, French mustard, pineapples, apples, milk, wheat, and
Many of our viewers have e-mailed to share their experiences with foods and canker sores as well.
Chocolate, in particular, is a problem for some people. For these people, eating chocolate often leads
to canker sores.
Another common culprit seems to be oranges and other citric fruits with many people
experiencing canker sores after eating these fruits or after drinking orange juice.
Keeping a Canker Sore
Notebook in which you keep track of foods you eat and canker sore incidence can help you identify foods
which may be contributing to your canker sores.
Check Your Toothpaste
Outside of reducing stress and avoiding trauma to your oral tissue, the latest
information on a new causative factor in canker sore formation provides us with hope that the incidence and
severity of canker sores can be reduced, perhaps dramatically. It appears that an ingredient in toothpaste called
SLS, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, may cause canker sores in some people. SLS free toothpaste has provided so much relief
to our patients that we have devoted an entire article
to this subject.
We all feel stress at one time or another. Stress is simply the body's reaction to perceived threats
or harmful stimuli. In response, the body increases heart rate, increases blood pressure, and releases a host
of cytokines and other chemicals. While stress is meant to be a protective mechanism, in today's society, we
often experience so much stress that it can become dangerous to our health.
Uncontrolled stress can cause severe medical problems including migraines, high blood pressure,
heart disease, and gastric/intestinal disorders. Not surprisingly, stress has been implicated as a factor
contributing to canker sores.
Several studies have shown an increased incidence of canker sores among highly stressed populations.
Medical students and dental students, for example, lead an extremely demanding and stressful life and have
been shown to suffer with canker sores to a greater extent than the rest of the population.
We have seen stress as a factor in causing canker sores in our patient population as well. Many of
our patients experience canker sores during extremely stressful periods of their lives. Viewers of our
website have also e-mailed us pointing out the role that stress plays in causing their canker sore outbreaks
We advise those patients susceptible to canker sores to try to reduce the stress in their lives. In
today's society this is often easier said than done. It's well worth the effort, however, since reducing
stress has other health benefits as well. We have provided the following links which may
Take Your VitaminsThe relationship between vitamin / mineral deficiencies and canker sores is less clear. Several
studies have shown that deficiencies in B1, B2, B6, B12, iron, or folic acid exist in a large percentage of
canker sore sufferers. Other studies, however, show little to no correlation between vitamin / mineral
deficiencies and canker sores.
The relationship between vitamin / mineral deficiencies and canker sores amongst visitors to the
website is also unclear. While many e-mail to say that they believe vitamin and mineral supplements have
decreased the incidence or severity of their canker sores, others see no
A good place to start is by seeing your doctor and having him or her take blood tests to measure the
levels of B vitamins, folate, and other minerals. If you are deficient in any of these, your doctor can
suggest appropriate supplements.
It is not a good idea to take an excess of vitamins or minerals as toxicities can occur when you
take too many.
Be Kind To Your Mouth, Eliminate Oral Trauma
There is evidence that trauma to the inside of the mouth may initiate canker sores. In many cases,
this trauma can be caused by such simple things as biting the inside of the mouth or eating hard candy which
scrapes or nicks the inside of the mouth. In our office, we advise patients to look for things that may cause
trauma to their mouth. These include:
Ill-fitting dentures or braces Often dentures which do not fit properly can irritate
and injure adjacent oral tissue leading to the formation of canker sores. If you have dentures and
suspect that this may be a culprit, have your dentist take a look to see if your dentures are
properly fitted to your mouth.
A similar problem is often experienced by people wearing braces. The metal can rub into and
damage the inside of the mouth. As with ill-fitting dentures, if you suspect that this is a problem,
contact your dentist.
Toothbrushing Trauma Your very own toothbrush could be damaging your teeth and oral tissue. This
is because nearly 2 out of 3 people brush too hard applying excessive and damaging force to teeth, gums,
and other oral tissues.
Although we advise our patients to brush with less pressure, often they can not do this. This is because
toothbrushing is a habit which has been ingrained since childhood. We encourage them to use the Alert Toothbrush which lights when you brush
too hard protecting your teeth, gums, and oral tissue.
Food Trauma Unfortunately, many of the foods we eat can nick, scrape, or otherwise injure oral
tissue and lead to canker sores. We encourage our patients to avoid or cut down on foods like potato chips,
hard pretzels or pre-cut apples. Especially damaging can be hard candies which after being partially eaten
or crunched can form sharp edges. These sharp edges can nick and injure the soft tissue of the mouth.
Dental Procedures Sometimes dental procedures can irritate the soft tissue of the mouth leading
to canker sores. One viewer e-mailed telling us that the needle used for novacaine injection would result
in canker sores the next day. If you suspect that you may form canker sores after dental visits, warn your
dentist so that he or she can be extra gentle during procedures.
Biting the Inside of Your Mouth Many people cause oral damage by biting their lips and inside of
their mouth. Often this can be an unconscious habit or occur during sleep. For these people, we often
suggest a mouthguard. Worn over the bottom set of teeth, mouthguards prevent biting damage to lips and the
inside of the mouth. Mouthguards can be custom made by your dentist or standard mouthguards can be
purchased at the local drug or sports store.