Passionate about health, Alison is a freelance writer/researcher for clients working in nutrition, physiotherapy, and chiropractic.
At a Glance
My personal experience with mouth ulcers prompted me to research effective home remedies and products. I cover:
1. Home remedy treatments
2. Things to eat or drink that provide relief and facilitate healing
3. When to see your doctor if the problem isn't resolving
4. The over-the-counter remedy I use that works best for me
5. What causes mouth ulcers, the three main types, and prevention tips
My Experience With Mouth Ulcers
I began to suffer from mouth ulcers in 2007 after the death of my mother. At first, I assumed that stress was causing the repeated crops of small, painful ulcers that appeared under my tongue and along the sides of it. However, other health problems began to arise, and a consultation with a gastroenterologist confirmed that I was gluten-intolerant.
With the help of some home remedies, one specific over-the-counter product, and by modifying my diet to exclude gluten, I experienced a huge improvement in terms of my mouth ulcers. They were reduced to the point where only the occasional, single ulcer would appear.
In recent months, however, after a severe viral infection accompanied by a cough that persisted for several weeks during December of 2016 and January of 2017, I have been suffering from acid reflux at night. This has irritated my mouth lining and resulted in more ulcers.
Once again, I have turned to my tried-and-trusted remedies rather than prescription medicines for acid reflux. I have also raised the head of my bed, avoided carbonated drinks, acidic fruits, chocolate, and peppermints—especially in the evenings—to solve the problem of acid coming up from my stomach and into my mouth. Thankfully, this has improved my recent ulcer problem.
During my research, I came across the use of oral probiotics to improve oral health. Further reading suggested their use for canker sores (mouth ulcers). Scroll down the page to learn about the product I tried and now use regularly. I believe this product has helped my mouth ulcer problem quite a bit.
This article has been written as a result of my extensive research to solve my own mouth ulcer problems and in it, you will learn what has worked for me.
Here is my selection of home remedies.
Most of them use ingredients you are likely to have at home, so you could try one of these, right away.
Scroll down the page to find out more about what causes mouth ulcers (also commonly referred to as aphthous ulcers and canker sores) and when you should see a doctor rather than trying to treat an ulcer yourself.
My Top 7 Home Remedies for Mouth Ulcers
The following simple suggestions feature things you are likely to have in the kitchen cupboard.
1. Warm Salty Water: Rinse your mouth warm, salty water, taking care to hold the liquid in the area of your mouth where the ulcer is troublesome. This method can be used for gum and tongue ulcers and those affecting any area of the lining of the mouth. Repeat the process two or three times daily.
Pros: My personal favorite for effectiveness and it is safe for everyone.
Cons: Not a great taste! Be sure to spit out the water after rinsing and to rinse your lips with fresh water as I have experienced dry and cracked lips through not doing so.
2. Honey: Use a cotton bud to apply honey. Raw, locally produced honey is the best, I think, but all honey has some antiseptic and healing qualities.
Pros: Tastes nice and really works, safe for everyone.
Cons: Honey contains sugar which you may not want in your mouth or your children's mouths. It is difficult to keep the honey in place as it naturally dissolves in saliva.
3. Hot and Cold Water: Have a cup of hot water (comfortable drinking temperature) and a cup of chilled water ready. Take a mouthful of hot water and swoosh it around the area of your mouth with the ulcer. Spit this out and repeat the process with a mouthful of the chilled water. Repeat two or three times and repeat the whole process several times throughout the day.
Pros: Safe for everyone and does bring relief for a short while after the treatment.
Cons: The relief from pain does not last very long after use.
4. Turmeric: Mix a 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder with about one teaspoonful of glycerine. Dip a cotton bud into this mixture and dab it onto the affected area. As you need to leave it in place for up to twenty minutes, this is only going to be suitable for gum ulcers or ones inside your cheek. It is not a practical remedy for an ulcer on the tongue. Turmeric is very healing and the glycerine very soothing, so the two ingredients combined are effective, although you will need to repeat two or three times daily.
Pros: Effective on ulcers inside the cheek or on the outside face of gums
Cons: I tried this and it tastes horrible! Consumption of turmeric is not advised for pregnant women as it may stimulate the uterus. However, it is safe for other adults and children.
5. Coriander Seed Tea: Make a tea by placing one teaspoonful of coriander seeds into a cup and pouring in boiling water. Leave this to stand and when cooled, strain it and use the liquid to swoosh your mouth, paying particular attention to the sore area. Spit out when done. Repeat this about three times a day.
Pros: It does actually work! Safe for everyone including pregnant women who may benefit from the extra Folate (B9) from Coriander seeds?
Cons: Taste is not the greatest, but adding a little local, raw honey to sweeten adds the healing effect of honey to the benefits of Coriander
6. Baking Soda: Make a paste by mixing a little baking soda with a couple of teaspoons of water. Use a cotton bud to dab this onto the sore area and try to leave it in place for about fifteen minutes before rinsing your mouth with cool water. Repeat as necessary.
Pros: Effective if you can get it to stay in place and safe for everyone
Cons: Tastes quite bad and probably best for ulcers inside the cheek or outside face of gums as on, or near the tongue, it just seems to dissolve in saliva!
7. Fluoride Toothpaste: A dab of fluoride toothpaste will speed the healing process. Avoid any toothpaste containing Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) as this can be a contributory cause of ulcers. The toothpaste method is rather "stingy" but effective!
Pros: Does work! Best for adults only as children should not use too much fluoride toothpaste or swallow it.
Cons: Very stingy!
Top 4 Things To Eat or Drink to Promote Healing
Mouth ulcers respond well to dietary changes or to applying specific fruits, vegetables, or herbs to the affected area. Here are my top four recommendations for dietary home remedies.
- The cause of many mouth ulcers is a lack of vitamin C. You could drink fruit juice or eat citrus fruits but as the acid in these also makes the ulcer more painful, taking vitamin C supplement will be an easier way to get the ulcer to heal more quickly.
- If you have some fresh basil growing on your windowsill or in the garden, chewing the leaves two or three times each day and holding the leaves in the area of your mouth where you have the ulcer will help to heal it quickly.
- Banana and yoghurt make a wonderfully cooling and soothing dessert. If you use it when you have sore ulcers, it will take the sting and pain out of them very quickly.
- Make green tea and sip this after each meal, swooshing it over the affected area. This will soothe the ulcer and remove any irritant particles of food, making it less likely that a secondary bacterial infection will develop. It will also help the ulcer to heal more quickly.
When to See a Doctor
The remedies above are safe and effective. Ulcers can take more than a week to heal but if you have been treating yours with home remedies and after seven days, it has not diminished in size, is getting bigger or more are developing, you should consult your doctor.
If your gums or the lining of your mouth start to feel sore or inflamed, spreading out from the area affected, you may have a bacterial infection arising from the ulcer and may need an antibiotic to treat this. If this happens, consult your doctor right away.
The Most Effective Mouth Ulcer Remedy I Have Tried
I promised to tell you about the single, most effective over the counter product I have tried - Now Oralbiotic - and believe me, I have tried quite a few.
Surprisingly, 'Now Oralbiotic' is not a paste preparation to put on the ulcer, it is an oral probiotic.
I do suggest that you consult your healthcare practitioner or GP before trying these - as this is the advice on the bottle.
These work by improving the health of the mouth and throat helping the colonization of 'good' bacteria and I have provided links to more information about how they work and other benefits such as reduction of bad breath, reduction in sore throats for children, etc., in the reference section at the end of the article.
How I use them:
I take one tablet a day for maintenance, allowing the tablet to dissolve completely in the mouth. If I have a mouth ulcer, I may take four oral probiotic tablets a day, one after each meal and one before bed, allowing the tablet to dissolve as close as possible to the ulcer.
Results have been quite fast for me and this treatment normally reduces the ulcer considerably by the next day and after a couple of days, I am pain-free and the ulcer has almost healed.
As far as I am aware, these tablets are safe for everyone, but if you are taking antibiotics, you need to take oral probiotics at least two hours before or after a dose of antibiotics.
As mentioned previously, advice on the bottle is that you should consult your doctor before trying these - although I did not do so myself!
What Causes Mouth Ulcers?
One myth about apthous ulcers or canker sores is that they are infection and you can catch them from someone else. This is not true. You will not get an ulcer from someone else, even from kissing someone who has one!
Three Main Types of Mouth Ulcers
These normally heal naturally by themselves within two weeks. Small in size, under 1cm in diameter
Deeper and bigger with a raised, uneven edge to them. These may take longer to heal
These form as many tiny pinheads. They can join together to create large and very painful ulcers
Minor ulcers are often caused by physical trauma. Scratching the inside of the mouth with a sharp piece of food (like a crispy potato chip) and most commonly by slipping with a toothbrush when brushing the teeth. Minor tongue ulcers are often caused by acidic foods or by a sharp edge on a tooth or amalgam filling.
Other causes of persistent ulcers include stress and anxiety and hormonal changes, but many people who get repeated ulcers have other family members with a similar problem so there may be a genetic link.
Some foods can trigger an ulcer. These tend to be more acidic or spicy foods but some people find that chocolate or coffee also causes them
If you are trying to quit smoking, you may find that you start getting mouth ulcers. This is unfortunate and is as a result of the chemicals from smoking being eliminated from your body. Stick with it though as these ulcers will not last!
If you repeatedly get ulcers, it is important to get this checked out by your doctor. Some underlying medical conditions can be a cause and most of these are simple and can be easily remedied. For example, you may have a Vitamin B12 or Iron deficiency.
If you are taking medication for another condition, check the contraindications on the pack leaflet as this may be causing your ulcer problem. In this case, check with your doctor. Anti Inflammatories, Beta Blockers and Angina medicines are common culprits.
Do you have a favorite and effective mouth ulcers home remedy that I have not mentioned? If so, please tell other readers about it by leaving a comment below.
I hope that you have found this roundup of home remedies for ulcers affecting the tongue, gums and lining of the mouth helpful, but please remember, you should never take what I write as a substitute for the medical advice from your own doctor. If you have any concerns or your ulcer is not getting smaller after seven days, despite your careful treatment, get it checked out!
Helpful References and Further Reading
1. How To Overcome Mouth Ulcers. Expert Health Reviews. (2017, March 25). Accessed May 24, 2017, This article has helpful information on the benefits of oral probiotics for mouth ulcers.
2. Duggal, N. 5 Ways Oral Probiotics Can Keep Your Mouth Healthy. Healthline. (2017, April 05). Accessed May 24, 2017, Even more health benefits for your mouth of taking oral probiotics
3. Canker Sores, Treatments & Causes | How to Get Rid of Canker Sores. Dr. Weil. (2017, May 02). Accessed 24, 2017, Helpful information on the causes and treatment of canker sores
4. Mouth Conditions › Mouth ulcers. Dental Health. (n.d.). Accessed May 24, 2017. Helpful information about the types and causes of mouth ulcers
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Alison Graham
Alison Graham (author) from UK on January 28, 2014:
Thank you for your tip Archa Ghodge, I will try that remedy out next time I have a mouth ulcer.
Archa from India on January 27, 2014:
Water with the mint leaves boiled in it, brings the cooling effect and cures the mouth ulcer.