Canker Sore Treatments that Work

Many of the links on this site are “affiliate” links.  If you use the links provided to purchase the recommended items, or to navigate to the web retailer site to purchase anything at all, I may receive a small commission.  These commissions will help me expand this site and provide you with additional recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Thank you!

DISCLOSURE:  I am not a doctor, and the below discussion is not medical advice.  I am simply sharing my personal experiences finding products that helped me with my canker sores, in the hope that my experience can help others.    

After dorking it up for many years (literally), I recommend:

Preventative Measures:  The combination of the two products below has greatly reduce the frequency of my canker sores, by about 75%!

The Natural Dentist Toothpaste

  • Does  not contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a common canker sore trigger.
  • Effective as a toothpaste:  makes my mouth feel clean and fresh, good flavor, choice of with or without fluoride, whitening version available.
  • Reasonably priced for a “natural” toothpaste, but more expensive than toothpastes you’ll find at the grocery store.

Super Lysine Supplement

  • Lysine is a common treatment for cold sores, and seems to work well on canker sores also.
  • Contains other healthy and potentially beneficial ingredients:  vitamin C, echinacea, licorice, propolis, garlic.
  • Has also strengthened my immune system – I get fewer colds, even when my kids are bringing home germs from school!

Treatment:  When I do get a canker sore, Rincinol greatly reduces the pain, severity, and duration of the sore!

GUM Rincinol Mouth Rinse

  • Coats and protects your mouth to help the canker sore heal and not get worse.
  • As soon as I think I feel a canker sore coming, I rinse my mouth with this product daily, right before going to bed.  
  • I have found that treatment must be timely!  If I have a full blown, big, painful canker sore, this product will not magically fix it.  
  • Easy to use:  Does not hurt when used, tastes fine, safe if accidentally swallowed.

Keep reading to Dork It Up!

I have fought with canker sores since I was around 10 years old, and got them more frequently as I got older.  Cankers sores are very painful, and make it difficult to talk, eat, and enjoy life.  

Canker sores are small ulcers or lesions inside the mouth.  Their cause isn’t fully known, and perhaps are caused by different things in different people.  They can be triggered by tissue damage or reactions inside the mouth (from your teeth, harsh food, or chemicals in mouth care products), stress, immune system problems, nutritional deficiencies, bacterial or viral infections, etc.  

Thankfully, my canker sore issues haven’t been as bad as I’ve read other people have.  I used to get them once or twice a month, and they last a week or two. Some people get them many times a month, or in clusters of several at once.  With consistent use of of the products I’m recommending, I get them once every two or 3 months, and they are typically not as severe or long lasting.

I’ve tried a lot of treatments, and have settled on a few products that significantly reduce the frequency and severity of my canker sores. 

Functional Requirements (in order of importance, for me):

  1. Canker sore treatment needs to work.  Preventative products should noticeably reduce canker sore frequency, and treatment products should noticeably reduce pain and duration of the sore.
  2. The cure can’t be worse than the disease.  It can’t make the canker sore worse, last longer, or recur.
  3. A big plus when the treatment isn’t excruciatingly painful (some are).
  4. Reasonably affordable.  This is at the bottom of the list because it’s worth a few bucks (for me) to avoid the pain and frustration of canker sores.

Options Considered
I’ve tried lots of products, finding what works for me by trial and error.  Online research and product reviews only go so far, as what works for some people may not work for others.  I’ll go through them one by one, ending with the products that actually worked. I’m not linking to the products that didn’t work – you shouldn’t buy them!

What Didn’t Work:

Durham’s Bee Farm Canker-Rid:  Propolis and other ingredients from bees, mixed in alcohol.  Lots of good reviews indicating its a miracle product, but also lots of reviews that said it didn’t work.  I thought it was worth a shot, but it didn’t work for me. It was very painful to apply (from the alcohol), stains anything it touches, provided only mild temporary relief, and did not noticeably help heal canker sores faster.  Advertised as “GUARANTEED!”, yet the seller declined to refund me when I told them the product didn’t work for me. Not recommended.

Gum Canker-X Pain Relief Gel:  Contains aloe and other ingredients to protect and soothe canker sores.  Mixed reviews, but worth a shot. Didn’t do much for me. Perhaps provided some very temporary mild relief, but wore off in 30 minutes.  Did not noticeably help heal canker sores faster. On the plus side, it’s not painful to apply. Not recommended.

Kanka:  Typical benzocaine ointment.  Very painful to apply, but then numbs the sore (and half your mouth) for an hour or so.  Somewhat useful to apply just before you eat, to make it less painful. Did not noticeably help heal canker sores faster.    Not recommended.

Zilactin-B:  Typical benzocaine ointment.  Same conclusions as for Kanka above.  Not recommended.

DenTek Canker Cover:  This is a patch that you apply over the top of a canker sore.  It turns into a clear gel that sticks to the sore, that is supposed to protect it and help it heal.  Good idea, sort of works, but in practice it’s difficult to use and doesn’t seem worth it. The patch feels very thick in your mouth, making it difficult to eat and talk.  The patch gets kind of gross over time as it dissolves in your saliva, leaving a sticky, gooey mess that is difficult and painful to remove if your sore becomes partially uncovered.  Sometimes the patch falls off, despite following the directions. When they dissolve or fall off, you have to apply another one. Does provide pain relief while they cover the sore, and perhaps would speed healing time if I could deal with them consistently for several days, but I couldn’t.  Not recommended.

Oracoat H B12 Melts:  Another patch to apply over the top of a canker sore.  Same conclusions as for DenTek Canker Cover above. Not recommended.

Hydrogen Peroxide:  Used as oral disinfectant rinse, hoping to speed healing time.  No noticeable effect. Not recommended.

Gly-Oxide Liquid Antiseptic Oral Cleanser:  Used as oral disinfectant rinse, hoping to speed healing time.  No noticeable effect. Not recommended.

Silver Nitrate sticks:  Silver nitrate is a chemical cauterizer, something that burns tissue to seal it.  It is used by medical professionals to stop acute bleeding. The sticks contain a bit of silver nitrate on the tip, for ease of application.  I actually used these sticks for canker sores for some time. The application of the product was incredibly painful for about 10 seconds (5x more painful than benzocaine). Once the pain faded, I was left with a sealed canker sore that didn’t hurt anymore, and healed in a week or so.  I hated the painful application, but I liked the results. Unfortunately, silver nitrate stopped working for me, and even made things worse. When a canker sore came back after an initial treatment, I tried to seal it with silver nitrate again. This hurt worse than the first time, and caused some tissue damage that hurt for several days after.  I was too scared to try silver nitrate ever again. Perhaps this potent chemical is best left to medical professionals. Not recommended.

What Works for Me:  

The Natural Dentist toothpaste:  

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS, is a chemical in many toothpastes.  It is a detergent, the same ingredient in many soaps and cleaners, that helps toothpaste foam as you use it and cleans your mouth.  Some people are sensitive to SLS, and it is a known canker sore trigger. So I looked for a toothpaste that was SLS free. Many natural toothpastes are odd – they taste funny, they are expensive, and they are often fluoride-free.  While some people may question the risks and benefits of fluoride, I’ve decided that fluoride is a good thing for me to have in toothpaste for cavity prevention (perhaps that can be the subject of another article someday!).  

The Natural Dentist is a line of toothpastes that does not contain SLS.  The toothpaste is also free of other things you likely don’t need to put in your mouth every day like artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors.  It includes some natural ingredients that might be helpful for mouth health, such as aloe, echinacea, and goldenseal. It comes in various versions, including All in One (basic all purpose toothpaste), Whitening (has a bit more abrasive ingredients in it), Fluoride-Free, Activated Charcoal (supposed to whiten teeth and remove toxins), and Kids (fruit flavors).  I’ve used the All in One and Whitening (whichever is cheaper at the time), and aside from subtle differences in flavor, they seem the same to me. The toothpaste seems like “regular” toothpaste (flavor, consistency, effectiveness), but is SLS free, which is what I want.

I’ve found that just switching to an SLS free toothpaste reduced my canker sore frequency by 25 to 50%. 

Super Lysine:

L-lysine (or just called lysine) is an amino acid (a building block of protein), and is found naturally in food such as meat, beans, cheese, and eggs.  Lysine helps the body absorb calcium, form collagen, and helps convert fat into energy through the creation of carnitine.  

The most common use of supplemental use of lysine is to treat cold sores and other symptoms of the herpes virus.  Many people find that lysine helps prevent and reduce severity of cold sore outbreaks. While canker sores are not the same thing as cold sores, they may also be triggered by immune system issues or a virus.  So a natural question is, will lysine work on canker sores also? Turns out for me and others, it does.

There are lots of lysine supplements out there, including many that include only lysine.  I stumbled on a product called Super Lysine based on Amazon reviews, which contains other ingredients associated with immune health, like vitamin C, echinacea, garlic, and propolis. The label lists a recommended dose of 3 tablets a day, but I take just 2 tablets a day every morning.  Two tablets provide 1000mg of L-lysine.  

I’ve found that Super Lysine reduced the frequency of  my canker sores an additional 50% after I had already switched to SLS toothpaste.  I’ve also found it to strengthen my immune system. I do not get colds as often as I used to, even when my young kids bring home germs from daycare and school.  Sometimes a cold will circulate around our house, but I’ll be the only person who doesn’t get it.

Oddly, the canker sores I do still get often correlate with other illness.  When I get sick, or even when I’ve been exposed to someone who is sick, I often get a canker sore.  This reinforces in my mind the connection between canker sores and immune response – when my immune system is cranked up, I get a sore.  This is frustrating, because the last thing I want when I feel sick is a painful sore in my mouth! Thankfully, I don’t get sick too often.

GUM Rincinol Mouth Rinse

Since I can’t seem to reduce the occurance of my canker sores to zero, I need something to treat them with. Without treatment, they last a week or two, make it difficult to eat and sometimes talk, and generally make me a bit grumpy and miserable.

The best things I’ve found for canker sore treatment is GUM Rincinol mouth rinse. I swish it around in my mouth for a minute right before I go to bed. It coats the sore to protect it, keeps it from getting worse, and makes it heal noticeably faster. It does not hurt at all, and even tastes OK. It is safe if accidentally swallowed.

The key to success with this product is starting to use it immediately after I notice a canker sore coming on. If I use it right away, it prevents the sore from becoming huge and more painful, and limits the duration of the sore. If I forget for 2 or 3 days, I will suffer the consequences. Canker sores are difficult to treat once they are full blown big sores, and I have not found a product that will magically fix them in this state.

With immediate and consistent use, Rincinol reduces the misery of a canker sore by 50 to 75% for me.

The product comes with a little cup to measure the amount of product to swish around your mouth. The bottle is small (100 mL), and only provides 10 doses of the recommended amount (10 mL). I’ve found that 5 mL is plenty and is just as effective, so I get double the doses!

As soon as I think I feel a canker sore coming, I rinse my mouth with this product daily, right before going to bed.  In theory, I could use this product more than once a day. However, after using the the product, you are not supposed to eat or drink for an hour for maximum effect. I tend to forget to time use of the product at least an hour away from my morning coffee, my lunch break, etc. I’ve found that using just once before bed is effective. Plus, the product can work undisturbed for ~7 hours while I sleep.


I highly recommend three products for the prevention and treatment of canker sores.  The Natural Dentist toothpaste (SLS-free) eliminates a common canker sore trigger, and Super Lysine is very effective for me in preventing canker sores.  When I do get a canker sore, or feel the first hint that I might get one, daily mouth rinsing with Rincinol significantly reduces the duration and pain of the sore.

I chose these products based on my own independent research, purchased them with my own money, and am sharing my personal experience with the products.

Many of the links on this site are “affiliate” links.  If you use the links provided to purchase the recommended items, or to navigate to the web retailer site to purchase anything at all, I may receive a small commission.  These commissions will help me expand this site and provide you with additional recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Thank you!

Dork It Up Yourself

I haven’t found a great central web resource on canker sores.  The website I’ve found that focuses on canker sore product reviews also hawks their own product, so I’m not sure it can be trusted to be unbiased.  If you find a good resource, let me know! I’ve cobbled information together from typical health resources like WebMD, and reviews of products from Amazon.  

Leave a Comment