Although getting canker sores may seem inevitable, this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to prevent them from appearing. Here are five techniques that you can follow to lessen your risk for canker sores.1,2
Practice Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Make it a habit to regularly brush your teeth after meals and floss once a day. This keeps your mouth clean and free of foods that could cause the sores. Consider using a soft toothbrush to help prevent irritation to mouth tissues. Avoid using toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain the chemical sodium lauryl sulfate as well.
You can also try oil pulling, an Ayurveda practice that’s known as the act of swishing and rinsing of the mouth using an oil. Traditional Indian folk remedies have highlighted that oil pulling can aid in preventing tooth decay, bad breath and bleeding gums, and in strengthening teeth and the gums.3
Oil pulling is beneficial since it’s an effective mechanical method that cleans your teeth and small crevices along the molars that typical toothbrush bristles cannot reach. Plus, the movement that occurs in the mouth when you swish and pull oil break down the bacteria’s fat-soluble membranes in your mouth. Bacteria are known to cause bad breath and cavity formation in teeth.
The best type of oil for oil pulling is cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil. Canker sores might arise due to allergic responses toward bacteria strains in your mouth or, in some cases, due to Helicobacteria pylori.4 Coconut oil contains antibacterial properties that can inhibit these bacteria strains.
Meanwhile, the medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) present in the oil are helpful in combating Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria strain primarily responsible for cavities.5,6 Coconut oil also guarantees protection against yeast infections in the mouth, also known as thrush.7,8
Five to 15 minutes of vigorous swishing inside the mouth are all you need to reap some of the benefits of oil pulling. Don’t gargle or swallow the coconut oil, since it works just like conventional mouthwash, and should be spit out after use.
Protect Your Mouth
If you have braces or other dental appliances, talk to your dentist or orthodontist about it. He or she may recommend the use of orthodontic waxes that could cover sharp edges. Any irregular dental surfaces should also be repaired.
Watch What You Eat
If you are prone to canker sores, make sure to avoid foods that can irritate your mouth. These include salty, acidic and spicy foods, as well as sticky or abrasive foods like potato chips or pretzels.9
Do Not Talk While Chewing
One wrong move if you talk and try to chew at the same time is that you may accidentally bite the inside of your cheek or other parts of your mouth. Most canker sores arise because of this.
If canker sores occur because of stress, make sure to practice and learn techniques that can either reduce or manage this issue. Notable activities that can be stress busters include adequate sleep, aromatherapy, mediation and yoga.
You can also practice the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), an energy psychology tool that’s similar to acupuncture, but without the needles. This method is based on the concept that a vital energy flows along the body via invisible pathways called meridians. EFT practitioners use their fingers to tap and stimulate energy meridian points in the body, and voice out custom-made verbal affirmations.
EFT assists in reprogramming your body’s reactions to everyday stress and lessens the risk of developing adverse health effects. If you’re interested in trying EFT, you can actually do it on your own or perform it under the supervision of a qualified therapist.