While anti-inflammatory medications, both prescription and non-prescription, can reduce the discomfort associated with canker stores as well as reduce the healing time involved, they’re not a necessary treatment. In most cases, canker sores can and do heal just fine on their own.
Taking an anti-inflammatory when a canker sore first forms can help reduce the size of the area that becomes inflamed. This means less pain when the blister pops and a faster healing time because the affected area is smaller. Anti-inflammatory medicines can also help reduce the pain that canker sores cause, although they will not eliminate contact pain experienced when eating or drinking in the area the canker sore is located or in the area that experiences contact during speech.
Anti-inflammatory choices for canker sore relief include aspirin, ibuprofen (commonly sold as Advil) and other medications in the NSAID class. It’s important to use these medications as directed and to read the warning labels. Many people have adverse reactions to anti-inflammatory medicines and side effects can occasionally be severe. That said, these are relatively safe drugs with a long history of research and use behind them.
For serious cases of canker sores, prescription anti-inflammatory medications are also available from your doctor or dentist. These include prescription strength ibuprofen as well as topical anti-inflamatory medicines such as aphthasol, which was created specifically to address canker sores, and kenalog. Other anti-inflammatory options that can be used to treat canker sores are fluocinonide, betamethasone and clobetasol, all of which are known under a range of brand names.
Before deciding on a topical anti-inflammatory for canker sores, discuss their side effects with your dentist or doctor. These topical canker sore treatments can lead to excessive fungal growth, also known as candida, in the mouth. It’s not serious, but it is unpleasant and can be difficult to get rid of. No one wants a cure that creates a new problem!
Ultimately, anti-inflammatory medicines are a potentially helpful therapy for canker sores, but they’re not strictly necessary, and most canker sore outbreaks are minor enough not to need treatment at all. If over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medicines are safe for you, they are worth a try, but don’t feel you need to run to the doctor to get prescription versions unless your outbreak is particularly severe or troublesome.
Before choosing any treatment for your canker sores, be sure to consider the side effects. Since canker sores usually heal on their own, there is always the risk that the cure is worse than the problem.