You may need further testing or a biopsy to look for other causes of mouth ulcers. Canker sores are not cancer and do not cause cancer. There are types of cancer, however, that may first appear as a mouth ulcer that does not heal.
In most cases, the canker sores go away without treatment.
Try not to eat hot or spicy foods, which can cause pain.
Use over-the-counter medicines that ease pain in the area.
Rinse your mouth with mild, over-the-counter mouthwashes or salt water.
Apply a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide and half water directly to the sore using a cotton swab. Follow by dabbing a small amount of Milk of Magnesia on the canker afterward. Repeat these steps 3-4 times a day.
Rinse your mouth with a mixture of half Milk of Magnesia and half Benadryl liquid allergy medicine. Swish mixture in the mouth for about 1 minute, then spit out.
Medicines prescribed by your health care provider may be needed for severe cases. These may include:
Stronger medicines called corticosteroids that are placed on the sore or take in pill form
Brush your teeth twice a day and floss your teeth every day. Also, get routine dental check ups.
Canker sores almost always heal on their own. The pain should decrease in a few days. Other symptoms disappear in 10 - 14 days.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
A canker sore or mouth ulcer does not go away after 2 weeks of home care or gets worse.
You get canker sores more than 2 or 3 times a year.
You have symptoms with the canker sore such as fever, diarrhea, headache, or skin rash.
Daniels TE. Diseases of the mouth and salivary glands. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 433.
Chattopadhyay A, Shetty, KV. Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis. Otolaryngological Clinics of North America. 2011;44(1)
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.