5 Best Mouthwash for Canker Sores 2023 (Dentist Recommended)
Matt Hannan, DDS
Updated: September 25, 2023
Opening your mouth and seeing a canker sore looking back at you in the mirror is never pleasant. These pesky, painful sores can make eating, drinking, and even talking painful.
They may not be dangerous, but they’re disruptive, and we only want to eliminate them as quickly as possible. A good mouthwash is one of the easiest and most effective ways to treat and prevent canker sores.
Not only does it help to keep your mouth clean, and the right mouthwash can soothe the pain and speed up healing.
As an experienced dentist with years of experience, I’ve tested and evaluated 200+ dental products. I strive to find the best products for achieving excellent oral hygiene. So, after using it for multiple days, let’s take a closer look at the 5 Best Mouthwash for Canker Sores from a dentist’s perspective.
- Best Overall: Colgate Peroxyl Mouthwash
- Best All-Natural: StellaLife VEGA Oral Rinse
- Best Pain Relief: Orajel Mouth Sore Rinse
- Best Sensitivity: TheraBreath Fresh Breath Oral Rinse
- Best Prescription: Magic Mouthwash
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Introduction to Canker Sores: What Are They?
Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are small, painful, open sores inside the mouth. They typically appear on the tongue, inside the cheeks, or at the base of the gums.
The exact cause of canker sores isn’t completely known, but several factors can contribute to their development. These factors include stress, hormonal changes, certain foods, minor injuries, or lack of certain vitamins and minerals. It’s crucial to understand that canker sores are different from cold sores. While both can be incredibly painful and bothersome, there are key differences.
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are contagious. They typically appear around the lips and are filled with fluid. On the other hand, canker sores aren’t contagious and are confined within the mouth.
- Canker sores are small, painful sores that occur inside the mouth. Their exact cause is unknown, but factors like stress, certain foods, or minor injuries may trigger them.
- Unlike cold sores that are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are contagious, canker sores are non-contagious and are confined within the mouth.
- Mouthwash plays a vital role in treating and preventing canker sores. It helps to clean the mouth, soothe the pain of sores, and maintain oral hygiene to prevent new sores from forming.
- Not all mouthwashes are equally effective for canker sores. Look for ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, fluoride, and lidocaine.
- Hydrogen peroxide acts as a mild antiseptic to kill bacteria that can slow down the healing process of canker sores.
- Fluoride can aid in the healing of canker sores by strengthening tooth enamel and reducing bacteria in the mouth.
- Lidocaine, a local anesthetic found in some prescription mouthwashes, can numb the area around a canker sore, reducing pain and discomfort.
According to research, experts estimate that about 1 out of every 10 people are affected by canker sores.
The Role of Mouthwash in Treating and Preventing Canker Sores
Using mouthwash regularly can play an essential role in treating and preventing canker sores.
- Cleaning: Mouthwash cleans the mouth by flushing away bacteria and food debris. This cleanliness can reduce the chance of sores getting infected, promoting faster healing.
- Soothing: Some mouthwashes contain ingredients that can soothe the pain of canker sores, providing temporary relief.
- Preventing: Regular use of mouthwash can help maintain oral hygiene and a healthy oral environment, preventing the onset of new sores.
Mouthwash 101: The Key Ingredients That Fight Canker Sores
Not all mouthwashes are created equal, especially when fighting canker sores. Here are a few ingredients you should look for:
- Hydrogen Peroxide: This is a mild antiseptic that can help kill bacteria in your mouth that may slow down the healing process of canker sores.
- Fluoride: While it’s most famous for fighting cavities, fluoride can also aid in the healing of canker sores by strengthening your tooth enamel and reducing bacteria in your mouth.
- Lidocaine: Found in some prescription mouthwashes, lidocaine is a local anesthetic. It can numb the area around a canker sore, reducing pain and discomfort.
Top 5 Best Mouthwash for Canker Sores
Choosing a mouthwash containing these ingredients can keep your mouth clean, provide relief, and promote healing from those pesky canker sores. Here are some of the top products.
1. Colgate Peroxyl Mouthwash (Best Overall)
Colgate Peroxyl Mouthwash is an excellent choice for those battling canker sores.
This rinse stands out due to its potent formula that includes 1.5% hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic that cleans the mouth of debris and bacteria, fostering an environment conducive to healing mouth sores. It also acts as an oxygenating agent, which helps remove dead cells from the surface of ulcers, further speeding up the healing process.
In addition to being a practical solution for canker sores, Colgate Peroxyl Mouth Sore Rinse promotes healthy gums and reduces bad breath, which can be a side effect of canker sores. It provides a thorough cleaning experience without the harsh burn of alcohol.
It’s no surprise that both dentists and users have recommended this mouthwash for its effectiveness in treating canker sores, thus earning it the title of ‘Best Overall’. However, remember that individual results can vary, and it’s essential to consult with a dental healthcare professional for personalized advice.
Colgate seeks to develop products that promote healthy smiles.
They’ve been in the oral health care industry for over 145 years and offer various oral care products. Sustainability is also important to them as they recently created a first-of-its-kind recyclable toothpaste tube. In addition, they strive to be an accessible company that offers many educational resources to the public and dental professionals. Peroxyl Mouth Sore Rinse is formulated with 1.5% hydrogen peroxide to cleanse and promote the healing of minor oral wounds.
2. StellaLife VEGA Oral Gel (Best All-Natural)
Even though it’s not a traditional mouthwash, StellaLife VEGA Oral Care Gel has made a strong case as an all-natural solution for canker sores.
This innovative product stands out for its unique formula, blending 16 active ingredients, including echinacea, calendula, and aloe vera. These ingredients are well known for their soothing and healing properties and ability to boost oral health.
StellaLife VEGA Oral Care Gel is designed to provide fast relief from pain and accelerate healing. It forms a protective, soothing layer over the canker sore, which shields it from further irritation and aids healing.
Moreover, the gel is homeopathic and free from harsh chemicals, artificial colors, and flavors. It’s also been reported to improve gum health and reduce bleeding, adding to its benefits.
It’s worth noting that while it’s an excellent all-natural choice, effectiveness can vary from person to person. It’s always recommended to consult with a dental healthcare professional for advice tailored to your specific needs.
StellaLife® VEGA® Care Gel is a revolutionary new technology formulated to accelerate healing, relieve pain & reduce swelling after dental procedures. Doctors have found it effective in managing dry sockets, canker sores, braces/invisalign, mucositis, cold sores, dry mouth, sores associated with dentures, more.*
3. Orajel Mouth Sore Rinse (Best Pain Relief)
Orajel Antiseptic Mouth Sore Rinse shines as an exceptional product for quick and effective pain relief from canker sores.
The Orajel Antiseptic Mouth Sore Rinse formula is designed with special attention to pain relief. It features hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient, which aids in cleaning and healing canker sores, but what sets it apart is the addition of menthol. Menthol provides a cooling effect that instantly soothes the painful discomfort associated with canker sores.
Aside from pain relief, this mouth rinse also promotes overall oral hygiene. It kills bacteria in the mouth, which can cause infections, reducing the risk of complicating your canker sores and slowing down their healing process.
For those suffering from the constant annoyance and pain of canker sores, Orajel Antiseptic Mouth Sore Rinse offers a great option for pain relief. As always, results vary among individuals, and consulting with a dental healthcare professional is recommended for personalized advice.
Orajel Antiseptic Mouth Sore Rinse is specifically formulated to kill bacteria and promote healing of canker sores, gum irritation, cheek bites, and denture irritation. The unique formula offers powerful cleansing in an effervescent, mint-flavored rinse.
4. TheraBreath Fresh Breath Oral Rinse (Best Sensitivity)
TheraBreath Healthy Gums Oral Rinse is a standout option for those with sensitive mouths dealing with canker sores.
This rinse is designed with sensitivity in mind. It contains cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), an antiseptic that helps to reduce bacteria in the mouth and aids in the healing of canker sores. But what sets it apart for sensitive mouths is its alcohol-free formula. Alcohol can cause a burning sensation and further irritate canker sores, so an alcohol-free mouthwash like TheraBreath is preferred for sensitive mouths.
Moreover, TheraBreath Healthy Gums Oral Rinse is certified vegan, gluten-free, and contains no artificial colors or flavors, making it a great choice for those who prefer a gentler approach to oral care.
The product helps to soothe and heal canker sores and supports oral health, particularly for healthy gums.
Remember that effectiveness can vary between individuals, and it’s always best to consult with a dental healthcare professional for personalized advice.
Dr. Harold Katz created TheraBreath to help his daughter overcome her struggle with bad breath.
Since 1994 they’ve been creating oral care products that treat halitosis, gum disease, tooth decay, stained teeth, immune support, tooth sensitivity, and dry mouth. The original TheraBreath formulation attacks odor-causing bacteria rather than masking it with heavy flavors or powerful odors.
TheraBreath is one of the five largest oral care companies and the largest privately-held manufacturer. TheraBreath Oral Rinse stimulates saliva flow and circulates antibacterial, oxygen-rich bacteria throughout your mouth.
5. Magic Mouthwash (Best Prescription)
“Magic mouthwash” is a broad term for a prescription mouthwash commonly recommended by healthcare professionals to treat various mouth conditions, including canker sores.
The formulation of magic mouthwash can vary, but it usually contains a combination of ingredients like a local anesthetic (such as lidocaine) to numb the area and relieve pain, a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation, and an antibiotic or antifungal to treat or prevent infection. Some versions may also include an antacid that helps the mouthwash coat your mouth more effectively.Recommended Reading: Ultimate Magic Mouthwash Recipe: Quickly Alleviate Intense Oral Pain
For severe or persistent canker sores that do not respond to over-the-counter treatments, magic mouthwash can be an effective option. The combination of ingredients provides comprehensive treatment by easing pain, reducing inflammation, and fighting potential infection.
However, it’s important to remember that you should only use magic mouthwash under the guidance of a healthcare professional. It’s not a first-line treatment and should be used when a dentist or doctor recommends it.
While magic mouthwash can be highly effective, its effectiveness can vary from person to person, and it’s always best to consult with a dental healthcare professional for personalized advice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The exact cause of canker sores isn't entirely known. They can be triggered by factors like stress, certain foods (especially acidic or spicy ones), minor mouth injuries, hormonal changes, certain toothpastes, or deficiencies in vitamins B-12, zinc, folate, or iron.
Canker sores and cold sores are both common oral problems, but they're not the same. Canker sores appear inside the mouth and are not contagious. In contrast, cold sores, caused by the herpes simplex virus, typically appear on or around the lips and are highly contagious.
Mouthwash can help with canker sores by cleaning the area, reducing bacteria in the mouth, providing pain relief, and promoting healing. Some mouthwashes also have ingredients like hydrogen peroxide or lidocaine that specifically aid in treating canker sores.
Apart from using the appropriate mouthwash or oral care product, you can speed up the healing process by avoiding spicy or acidic foods that can irritate the sore, refraining from using toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate, and not touching or picking at the sore. Staying hydrated and maintaining good oral hygiene can also aid in faster healing.
My Experience & Expertise
As a dentist, I’ve witnessed canker sores bring a great deal of discomfort and annoyance. Thankfully, the right mouthwash or oral care product can provide much-needed relief and aid healing. Whether you need an overall effective solution, natural relief, targeted pain relief, a gentle option for sensitive mouths, or a robust prescription treatment, various options are available.
Knowledge is power when cultivating healthy dental habits. The more informed you are, the better positioned you’ll be to prevent avoidable and potentially costly dental procedures for you and your family. Watch for future blog posts, where we’ll continue sharing important information, product reviews and practical advice!