Canker sores don’t sound like a debilitating health problem, but if you have dealt with canker sores on a regular basis, you know how miserable they can make your life. According to the Medlineplus medical dictionary, a canker sore is a painful, open sore in the mouth, which is white or yellow and surrounded by a bright red area. They are not cancerous, but they are a mouth ulcer.
Who Is Affected?
Research shows that women are more often afflicted with canker sores, and they can be caused by a variety of reasons, including stress, aggressive tooth brushing, low immune systems or by accidentally biting the cheek or tongue. Some people think that diet is involved, and I can vouch for that thought, as I will explain later on.
I have suffered with canker sores my entire adult life. There are a variety of treatments available, including over the counter topical medications or prescription drugs such as certain antibiotics. Cyclovir is an anti-viral medication that works in some people.
The most effective treatment that I have used was recommended by my dentist, and it is called Zilactin. Zilactin is a bioadhesive, in the form of a medicated gel that comes in a small .25-ounce tube. It’s recommended for canker sores, fever blisters and cold sores. The active ingredient in Zilactin is 10 percent benzyl alcohol, and it is a dark brown gel that smells like Listerine. It allows you to eat and drink almost normally for 4-6 hours after application.
When I first started getting canker sores, I didn’t know how to treat them and bought products such as Anbesol to deaden the pain. These worked only temporarily, and even though I would apply the product before eating, it usually wore off before I was finished with my meal. That is what makes Zylactin so great, because when I put this gel on my canker sores, it actually forms a very thin film over the sore, which protects it from air, liquids and foods. This deadens the pain considerably! When I put Zilactin on my canker sores, it hurts and stings a LOT, but the stinging pain upon application soon subsides and relief quickly follows. I am always sure to apply Zilactin to my canker sores when I go to bed, and I sleep much better. I have actually had these sores keep me awake at night!
Using Zilactin is easy. To prevent cross contamination I usually try to apply it with a Q-Tip instead of my hands, and this works pretty well. The important thing is to dry the canker sore completely, then apply the Zilactin to the sore and keep the mouth open so that the gel can dry on the canker sore, which ends up forming a wonderful, protective film. The directions say you can apply ice to the canker sore first to deaden it a bit, because they warn that the Zilactin can cause stinging, and it surely does with me!
You learn very quickly when you have canker sores that you want to avoid hot spicy foods or acidic foods like orange juice and spaghetti sauce, these just add to the burning pain of the canker sores. I have found that rinsing my mouth with salt water helps, as does sucking on ice cubes, which seem to deaden the sores temporarily. One of my medical doctors treated my canker sores in a very unusual way years ago. I was afflicted with five large canker sores on the inside of my mouth and tongue, and I was barely able to eat any food, because these canker sores were so painful. It even hurt to talk, because my teeth would rub up against the open sores. He applied ether to each of the sores, and the pain went away almost immediately! It didn’t cure them totally, because later in the day they started to hurt again, but not nearly to the degree that they had prior to the ether being used. They healed up very quickly too, with what usually took 1-2 weeks to heal shortened to a few days.
Canker sores afflict 60 million Americans today, and if you are one of them, you know how painful these sores can be. I’ve read that there is now a patch that you can put directly onto the canker sores, called CankerMelts Patches, but I can’t vouch for them because I have never tried them, in fact I have never seen them in my local stores. I have tried numerous topical, over-the-counter medications and nothing works better for me than Zilactin.
One more thing to mention is diet. I know for a fact that when I eat too much sugar, an outbreak of canker sores (usually multiple sores) happens. I have been dieting for the past 6 months, drastically reducing my sugar intake, and I have not had a single canker sore during this time. Before this, I would get them every two months or so. I firmly believe that diet and the health of your immune system plays an important role in preventing painful canker sores.
If you too suffer from canker sores, I highly recommend trying Zilactin. It is expensive. I think I used to pay $8 for the small tube years ago, and now it’s up to about $12, but it is worth the cost, and one tube lasts a very long time. It works for me.