Ayurvedic treatment for Canker sores-mouth ulcers

Canker sores-mouth ulcers

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  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References


Canker sores-mouth ulcers Ayurvedic treatment


Canker sores, also called mouth ulcers, are small, shallow painful lesions that appear on the soft tissues in the mouth or at the base of the gums. These are the most common type of mouth ulcers. They’re usually red, inflamed soft tissue and are white or yellow.1-2

The inflamed conditions of the mouth in Ayurveda are classified under Mukha paaka. Improper diet and deeds causes imbalance of the pitta which in turn aggravates the symptoms associated with mouth ulcers.


Canker sores-mouth ulcers


You may be at a risk of getting canker sores, if you have a family history of frequent canker sores. The manifestation of canker sores can be attributed to various causes. The most common causes include:

  • Viral infection in the mouth
  • Stress
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Food allergy
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Deficiency of vitamins or minerals
  • Immune deficiency
  • Mouth injury


Canker sores-mouth ulcers


Canker sores are associated with the following common symptoms2

  • A yellowish or white small, oval shaped ulcer
  • A painful red area in the mouth
  • Tingling sensation in the mouth

Some cases of canker sores may be associated with the following conditions:

  • Swelling in the lymph nodes
  • Presence of fever
  • Feeling sick

It is advised to contact your physician if a canker sore doesn’t heal on its own within two weeks. It may be an indication of a severe underlying illness.


Canker sores-mouth ulcers


The diagnosis of canker sores can be done just by its physical examination. However, the physician may order for biopsy or other tests in case of a severe breakout.


Canker sores-mouth ulcers


People with aggravated pitta are generally likely to get canker sores. High pitta in the saliva causes the teeth to become sharp because of the erosion of the crown of the tooth which may cause lacerations leading to sores in the mouth. Hence, it is advised to follow a pitta soothing diet, avoiding hot, spicy and fermented foods.4 Given below are some ahar (diet) and vihar (lifestyle regime) recommendations for canker sores:

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Follow a pitta soothing diet; avoid hot spicy and fermented food
  • Avoid strong alcoholic drinks which may aggravate the sores
  • Drink half a cup of cranberry juice between meals which will help soothe the sores by relieving the burning sensation and irritation
  • Include gourd vegetables like bitter and the ridged gourds, Drumstick (Sargava), Spinach leaves (Paalakh), Prickly Amaranth (Tandalaja), Coriander leaves (Dhaniya), pomegranate, grapes and amla in your diet
  • Include cereals like rice flakes, puffed rice, puffed wheat, etc
  • Hydrate adequately - coconut water may be good
  • Sometimes canker sores are associated with diarrhoea or constipation. Taking half a spoon of arrowroot with a cup of warm milk relieves constipation while taking a quarter spoon of arrowroot with one tea-spoon ghee corrects diarrhoea.
  • Avoid abrasive, acidic or spicy foods that can cause further irritation and pain

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Practice good oral and personal hygiene
  • Oral cleansing techniques like kanwal and gandusha or holding swirling of medicated oils or decoctions in mouth for specific periods are beneficial
  • Nasya karma or insufflation of medicines through nasal route / snuffing may be beneficial
  • Rinse your mouth by using a solution of salt water or baking soda rinse (dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup warm water)
  • Dab a small amount of milk of magnesia on the canker sore a few times a day to help relieve the pain
  • Apply ice to your canker sores and by allowing ice to slowly dissolve over the sores may also provide pain relief
  • Brush your teeth gently, using a soft brush and foaming-agent-free toothpaste
  • Local application of turmeric and honey will help heal the sores
  • Local application of a mixture of aloe vera gel and neem also help in healing process
  • Rinse your mouth several times a day using aloe vera juice
  • Mixture of tea tree oil and water acts as an antiseptic which helps in preventing secondary infection


Canker sores-mouth ulcers
  1. How Can Toothaches Be Prevented?

Ayurveda suggests simple diet and lifestyle changes to prevent toothaches. They are as follows:


  • Sticky substance which may adhere to the teeth should be avoided
  • Food containing sugar and other sweets should be avoided
  • Fruits like guavas, oranges, pomegranates and other fruits of the citrus family are beneficial as they contain vitamin C which strengthens gums
  • Amla must form the part of the diet since it contains the largest amount of vitamin C and is easily available


  • Maintain a good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene practices consist of brushing regularly and frequent rinsing of the mouth
  • Make a habit of rinsing the mouth after every meal
  • Use natural oils and extracts from clove oil for toothache. Dab a cotton ball in clove oil on the affected tooth and gently bite down. The natural properties of clove oil can help relieve tooth pain and prevent future cavities and bad breath
  • Using saline water to rinse the mouth after meals helps in curing toothache and even other tooth-related problems
  • Mix equal amounts of pepper, salt and few drops of water to form a paste. Apply this paste on the affected area to relieve toothache
  1. What causes teeth to hurt?

Some of the common causes of toothache includes:

  • Dental decay
  • Dental cavities
  • Swelling of the pulp
  • Tooth infection
  • Broken tooth
  • Exposed tooth root
  • Crack in the tooth
  • Consumption of food rich in carbohydrates and sugar like colas, candies, cakes, etc
  • Consuming hot and cold food together
  • Gum disease
  1. What is plaque?

Plaque is the sticky film or mass of bacteria that grows on the surface of the teeth. It is most noticeable when teeth are not brushed and makes teeth feel rough/fuzzy to the tongue.

When food containing carbohydrates and sugars such as soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth, it leads to the development of plaque. Mouth is full of bacteria which thrive on these food particles producing acids. These acids destroy tooth enamel over a period of time resulting in tooth decay. The development of plaque on the tooth under gums may cause breakdown of the supporting bone present underneath.

In Ayurvedic literature, dental conditions are referred as Danta sharkara, since the appearance of plaque is similar to the sugar coating over the teeth with a granular shape. It is a disease characterized by, hardened accumulation of mala on tooth surface which destroys the teeth and its surrounding structures and is accompanied by bad odour. Vitiated vata takes the form of thick adherence like the thick sugar syrup causing the manifestation of Danta sharkara.

  1. How do I keep my teeth and gums healthy?

Following tips can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy

  • Avoid sugar rich food, hard food, non-vegetarian diet food which will cause the built up of tartar and worsen the problems of dental plaques.
  • Green tea, intake of easily digestible and foods with less fat and carbohydrate prevent the formation of tartar.
  • Consume plenty of raw vegetables
  • Regularly practicing flossing, proper tooth brushing, oral rinsing and regular oil pulling helps to get rid of the plaque efficiently and further prevents the formation of tartar
  • Herbs such as nutmeg (Jatiphala), Triphala (Hareetaki, Vibheetaki and Amalaki) and Saindhava lavana can be made into a fine powder and rubbed well to the teeth. This helps to clear the tartar
  • A mixture of ashes of ginger, long pepper, black pepper and salt can be used for brushing the teeth. Turmeric can be added to this mixture in case of bleeding gums
  1. Can side effects of medications cause dry mouth?

The causes of dry mouth can be attributed to the following:

  • Certain medications
  • Aging
  • A blocked nose
  • Stress
  • Cancer therapy
  • Nerve damage
  • Other health conditions such as immune disease (Sjogren's syndrome) or HIV/AIDS.
  • Tobacco use
  • Drug abuse
  1. What types of foods and beverages should I avoid if I have dry mouth?

Avoid spicy foods and avoid excess coffee, tea, sodas and alcoholic drinks

  1. What’s causing my sore throat?

Sore throat may be caused by the following:

  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Smoking
  • Shouting
  • Allergies
  1. What can I do to make my throat feel better?

Ayurveda recommends the following:

  • Drink plenty of warm fluids, such as teas, soup, and water
  • Hot lemon and honey, honey and cidar vinegar, herbal teas, ginger juice or carrot and apple juice, elderberry juice, blackcurrent tea or juice are all effective during infection which also improve immunity and helps relieving sore throat
  • Daily supplements of teaspoon of cod liver oil, 100 mg vitamin C tablets every 2-3 hours or 2 garlic capsules every two hours can be given until the patient is well again
  • Give plenty of rest to your throat and try not to talk
  • Avoid day sleep since it may lead to Kapha build-up, leading to worsening according to Ayurveda
  • Avoid exposure to cold breeze, water etc.
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene
  • Gargle every few hours using a solution of quarter teaspoonful of common salt or yavakshaara dissolved in half a glass of warm water or decoction prepared from the bark of Acacia (Babul) tree
  1. Is triphala churna an effective remedy for the treatment of mouth ulcers?

Yes, as mouth ulcers are most commonly associated with constipation.  In case of such a situation, use of a mild laxative such as Triphala choorna is advised which will give some relief.

  1. Are there other steps I can take to prevent tooth cavities?

Ayurveda recommends few tips as follows:

  • Decrease intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Consume foods that are rich sources of calcium
  • Make a mixture of turmeric, salt and mustard oil to make a paste and rub it on teeth and gums
  • Consume plenty of raw vegetables
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene to keep your teeth and gums clean.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive drinking since they may cause dental problems
  • Chewing on fresh herbal sticks in the morning as well as after every meal to prevent diseases. These herb sticks should be either ‘kashaya’ (astringent), ‘katu (acrid), or ‘tikta’ (bitter) in taste. The method of using these sticks is to crush one of its end, chew it, and eat it slowly. The neem (margosa or the Azadiraxhta indica), liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), miswak (miswaak, siwak, sewak) etc. are some examples of herbal sticks
  • Use of an herbal tooth powder madeup from neem powder and salt


Canker sores-mouth ulcers
  1. Canker sore. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/canker-sore/basics/definition/con-20021262. Accessed on: 1 September 2016
  2. Canker Sore. Available at: http://www.healthline.com/health/canker-sores#Overview1. Accessed on: 1 September 2016
  3. Manohar M. Ayurveda for all. V&S Publishers; 2012 Apr 5.
  4. Lad V. The complete book of Ayurvedic home remedies. Harmony; 1999.
  5. Abhinav Singhand Bharathi Purohit. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011 Apr-Jun; 2(2): 64–68. Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health
  6. Sunita Amruthesh. Dentistry and Ayurveda - IV: Classification and management of common oral diseases Indian J Dent Res, 19(1), 2008.


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