You wake up in the morning, with the feeling that there is a razor inbetween your front gums. You wiggle your jaw around a bit, wondering what that feeling is. You then try to pull your lip out without touching it to expose your gums to the morning air as if this will help. It doesn't.

So you walk to the bathroom, place your face about 2" from the mirror, pull your lower lip down with your fingers and... scream.

There is a fungal growth in your mouth! Okay, who forgot to put the lid on your mouth before sticking it in the refrigerator?

But it's not a fungal growth, it's a canker sore, and you have been honored to be one of the 3 billion people in the world that experiences their mighty wrath once a year.

So now what?

You play around with it with your tongue, thinking this will help. It won't.

You then brush your teeth rigorously hoping this will clean it to its bloody death. Little do you know, this just makes it worse.

You then gargle with water and baking soda or water and salt or whatever ludicrous method you heard about. This hurts. Almost as bad as brushing your teeth.

You decide to research it and you believe it's a cold sore and go around telling all of your friends that you have herpes. Until you find out that you don't.

You let people refuse to kiss you because they think this parastical monster is contagious. It's not. "It's only bacteria, babe."

People think you have poor hygiene skills because of this. You might, but that has very little to do with it. It's because you have SLSs (forms of soap) in your toothpaste and might even be because you're stressed out. Wig out on other people and blame it on them.

And you sit around wondering when it will be over. Oh, don't worry. Your ship will come in... in 10-15 days.. scar-free!

And what on Earth is that softlink supposed to mean in relevance to this write-up?

just to expound a bit on the previous node

The official name for canker sores is aphthous ulcers, which means fire sores. Canker sores are tiny, round sores on gums, tongue or the inside of your mouth. They are sometimes known as mouth lesions. They are not to be confused with cold sores, which are an outbreak of herpes and are highly contagious.

Canker sores usually appear one at a time, inside the lips or cheeks, especially where the gums meet the inside edge of the lips. They are usually caused by trauma to the inside of the mouth, certain foods, and stress. They usually disappear within a few days to a week.

While they are there, you can try the following to ease the pain and speed the healing

If canker sores are chronic, consider switching toothpastes. Several sites have incriminated sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a component of almost every toothpaste, as a potential cause. Halting use of SLS based toothpastes may speed the healing of pre-existing sores.

Several reports have also suggested that iron and Vitamin B deficiency may contribute to frequent outbreaks of sores. According to MotherNature.Com, 300mg B1, 20mg B2, and 150mg B6 can provide a degree of relief. Some people have responded well to lactobacillus acidophilus (what people who are lactos intolerant take to aid in the digestion of milk products).

Other herbs and homeopathic remedies that may help (which I have not tried myself) are: chamomile, aloe vera, myrrh, Echinacea, licorice, arsenicum album, borax, calcarea carbonica, hepar sulphuris calcereum, mercurius solubilis, natrum muriaticum, nux vomica, and sulphur. Please, Oh Please, check out proper method of administration and dosage before attempting one of the above listed self-treatments. Some are potentially dangerous.

A friend of mine I used to work with is a former Marine.

We were talking one day, and by some cosmic force, the topic of canker sores came up. He told me that when he was in the Marines, a friend had told him that one of the best ways to get rid of a canker sore was ear wax. My friend was reluctant to try it, but did anyway. Apparently the next day, the canker sore was damn near gone.

Impressive, but it would take a lot more than a canker sore to get me to chew on ear wax.

As the others who've contributed to this node have noted, canker sores can be hellish.

For many years, I tried rinsing with baking soda water or salt water, which only kinda-sorta worked. Topical anaesthetics like Oragel and Orabase didn't last long enough and didn't help the damned things heal.

But recently I've discovered two things that have helped tremendously:

  1. Lysine -- This is an amino acid which you can buy as a supplement in the herb/vitamin section of most any supermarket or health food store.

    The trick with lysine is you have to take 1 or 2 tablets (500 to 1000 milligrams) right when you feel a sore coming on. If you wait until you've got a full-blown mouth ulcer, the lysine won't work so well. But I've found that if I hit an emerging sore with a dose of Lysine, 75% of the time it'll get completely knocked out within hours and never erupt.

    I've found I sometimes have to keep taking a 500 milligram dose each day for a few days if a sore keeps trying to come back. Your mileage may vary with this treatment, and if you have any illness that affects your ability to process protein, you definitely should check with your physician before trying this.

  2. Biotene -- This alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwash recently became available in the U.S. It uses artificial versions of the antibacterial enzymes naturally found in human saliva to combat plaque, tooth decay, and infection. It's rather expensive, and I initially found it somewhat disconcerting because I got the sensation I had just taken a swig of cold, peppermint-flavored spit (it's kind of thick).

    However, I've found the stuff really, really works. It's gentle, and it works wonders on any kind of mouth irritation. If you regularly get canker sores, I recommend you give this stuff a try, though you may find it too pricey to use as an everyday mouthwash.

  3. Peroxyl mouthwash -- I've found this hydrogen peroxide-containing mouthwash can help when Biotene fails. It's a bit pricey, however.

  4. Nyquil -- find a small bottle of original-flavor Nyquil, the kind with an antihistamine, cough suppressant, acetominophen, and alcohol. Now, don't drink it (unless you also happen to have a cold). Soak the tip of a cotton swab with the stuff, and gently swab the canker sore and the area around the sore with it. The alcohol seems to kill the germs, and the antihistamine helps reduce the swelling, and the other stuff reduces the pain somewhat.

I have also heard that mixing a tablespoon of Benadryl Liquid and a tablespoon of Milk of Magnesia and swishing it around in one's mouth helps some people, but I haven't tried this one yet.

Canker sores are indeed terrible. I have some simple advice given to me by an oral surgeon about their healing:

  1. Do not use hydrogen peroxide. Although it will quite effectively numb the pain if you rinse with it for about 30 seconds, it will about double the time you have the canker sore for. This is a bad thing.
  2. Ordinary mouthwash can also slow healing. The alcohol present obstructs your skin's attempts to heal.
  3. A swig of liquid benadryl, rinsed for about 30 seconds and spat out (unless you want to feel drowsy and allergy-free for a few hours) will relieve the pain without obstructing healing. It's cheap, simple, and makes the pain stop.

Also, I've found that braces and canker sores can be a terrible combination. Braces irritate mouth tissue, and if a bracket is digging into a sore, it's very painful. A little wax will do wonders. If your orthodontist didn't supply you with some, most grocery stores and druggists carry small packages of wax.

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