Noted Biologist and Clinical Dentist Dr. Allan Melnick Gives Tips on Canker Sore Care

Share Article

Vitamin B therapy, analgesics, anti-inflammatories and lifestyle changes are the best way to combat painful mouth ulcers until a cure is found, says noted Encino dentist.

Recent research from the University of Manchester indicates that Vitamin B12 therapy might help those who suffer from recurring canker sores

One in five people experience canker sores. That translates to 60 million Americans who know how painful mouth sores can be, says Dr. Allan Melnick, a clinical dentist from Encino, Calif. The root cause of this oral affliction is unclear, but researchers are taking a closer look at immune system dysfunction and allergic reactions as possible links to outbreaks.

An anti-inflammatory drug that counters allergic responses in the body has shown promise in identifying a cause for mouth sores, says Dr. Melnick, a former UCLA dentistry professor. While it's not a cure, it and several other treatments give health care providers something to offer their patients.

"Recent research from the University of Manchester indicates that Vitamin B12 therapy might help those who suffer from recurring canker sores," notes Dr. Melnick. "Seventy-four percent of subjects given a daily oral dose of 1,000 micrograms of B-12 for six months went into remission from mouth ulcers. That's encouraging news."

In a study led by Israel's Ben-Gurion University, 58 randomly selected canker sore patients were given either a placebo or sublingual dose of B-12 nightly for half a year. At the end of the study, researchers found both a reduction in severity and frequency of outbreaks in the Vitamin B-12 subjects. The study's findings were reported in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Debacterol, another prescription medicine, cauterizes oral sores chemically and can cut healing time in half. Cortisones also are used in serious canker cases. Low-level ultrasound, laser therapy and silver nitrate provide other treatment options, says Dr. Melnick.

Recurrent mouth ulcers - or "aphthous stomatitis" - are shallow white sores surrounded by red irritated tissue. They can erupt as a single ulcer or appear by the dozens. Size varies - usually from 0.2 to 0.8 centimeters.

Canker lesions are not to be confused with cold sores, which are caused by the herpes virus, says Melnick. While cold sores tend to appear on the outer lip, canker sores develop inside the cheeks, on the tongue and along the gum line. Canker sores are not contagious, but cold sores are. The average canker lesion takes about two days to form and sticks around 10-14 days; however, severe cases can last for six weeks or more.

Not only are canker sores thought to be linked to immune system malfunction and allergies, but also stress, heredity, food sensitivities, malnutrition, bacterial invasion and hormonal fluctuations. Statistics show women suffer from lesions more often than men, according to the Mayo Clinic.

To minimize outbreaks, Dr. Melnick suggests the following canker sore tips:

  • Reduce stress as much as possible.
  • Avoid drug store remedies except analgesics as they often delay healing.
  • Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Exercise caution when eating gritty foods.
  • Minimize exposure to acidic foods and beverages.
  • Apply a water and baking soda paste to sores or a commercial analgesic such as Anbesol, Orabase B or Orajel.
  • Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement with B-6, B-12, zinc, folic acid and iron if recommended by your health care provider.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Allan Melnick
Visit website