They come when you least expect them and range from annoyances to really painful…the elusive canker sore. Canker sores also known dentally as aphthous ulcers are small, shallow, benign sores in the mouth or at the base of the gums. They can be caused by injury (ie biting your cheek), stress, spicy foods, vitamin deficiencies and some systemic problems. They can be diagnosed by your dentist or by the patient if its not the first time you’ve had one.

In my practice, I see several people a month who come in for my opinion of how to remedy them and asking how long they last. Beyond just time itself (ie 5-10 days), there are a few recommendations that I give which can alleviate the discomfort immediately or at least shorten the duration by a few days…

1. My favorite remedy is an in office treatment which I use myself called Debacterol. It is a topical treatment which cauterizes the sore and reduces healing time significantly. Patients leave painfree after just one treatment. The substance stings for 5 seconds and then you feel immediate relief.

2. Warm salt water rinses ( 1 teaspoon of salt to cup of warm water )

3. Warm water and teaspoon baking soda

4. Avoid spicy and acidic foods

Please feel free to let us know if there are any other natural suggestions

I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for 12 years. Avurveda is a system of medicine with roots in India and often goes hand in hand with yogic practice. A few years back, I went to a seminar at my favorite yoga center and learned about “oil pulling” which for years has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to keep teeth clean and whiter.

Oil pulling ie “kavala” involves swishing a tablespoon of oil ( sesame, coconut etc.) in the mouth for around 10-20 minutes. It draws out toxins and helps clean the teeth naturally. You can start with 5 minutes and work your way up to the desired amount of time.

I mentioned this technique to a few of my adventurous patients and re-evaluated their teeth and plaque buildup at their subsequent check-up appointments. The results were amazing! The patients also reported feeling their teeth felt smoother and shinier.

I myself, have tried the technique and have added it to my dental hygiene regimen at least twice a week with equally great results. If you are equally adventurous and looking for a fun natural experiment to improve your oral health…try it out and post your results!!!