Get information on causes, symptoms and various treatments including home remedies for canker sore on gums. Also get to know if canker sores are contagious or not.

Are Canker Sores Contagious?

canker sore on gums causes

canker sore on gums

Canker sores are not known to be contagious. They do not spread from one-person to another. Canker sores normally develop in an individual due to certain triggers such as rapid hormonal changes, stress or exposure to certain foods and chemicals. Anyone can develop canker sores. But they occur more often in teens and young adults and are more common in females.

People with recurrent canker sores have a family history of the disorder. This may be due to hereditary or a shared factor in the environment such as foods or allergens.

Canker Sore on Gums Causes

The exact cause of canker sores remains sketchy, though various researchers in the field of medicine have pointed to the fact that a combination of factors can contribute to the outbreak of canker sores. Below are 12 probable causes of canker sores on gums:

  1. Mouth washes and toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate.
  2. Nutritional deficiencies. Frequent use of diets that lack in vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid or iron.
  3. Helicobacter pylori bacteria could also be the major cause of canker sores on gums. The same bacterium is also known to cause peptic ulcers.
  4. Cancer sores can also be due to allergic response to certain bacteria in your mouth.
  5. Hormonal changes during menstruation.
  6. Emotional changes such as stress.
  7. Physical trauma (damage to the lining of the mouth), due to dental work activities such overzealous brushing or an accidental tooth (cheek bites).
  8. Hypersensitivity to certain foods such as coffee, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, eggs, nuts, cheese, spicy and acidic foods.
  9. Food additives also cause canker sores on gums. Spice cinnamon and benzoic acid are common preservatives found in foods and soft drinks.
  10. Certain medication
  11. Exposure to sun for a very long hours
  12. Fever and fatigue

Canker sores can also be caused by certain conditions and diseases such as:

  • A faulty immune system that attacks healthy cells in your mouth instead of pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria.
  • Behcet’s disease. This disorder may not be but it causes inflammation throughout the body, including the mouth.
  • HIV/AIDS, which weakens the immune system.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Celiac disease, a serious intestinal disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in most grains.
canker sore on gums picture

canker sore on gums picture

Symptoms of Canker sores in mouth and Gums

How do canker sores look like? Most canker sores are round in shape with a white or yellow center and a red edge or border. Unlike fever blisters or cold sores, canker sores never form outside of the mouth. They form inside the mouth or under the tongue. They can also form inside your cheeks or lips, at the base of your gums, or on the soft palate. In most cases before the sores appear you will notice a burning sensation before the sores actually appear.

In severe attacks, you may also experience:

  • Fever
  • Physical sluggishness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Persist for 1-3 weeks before healing.
  • Fading to grey over time

How to Treat Canker Sores on Gums

  1. Emollients

Emollient have protective coating agents which are inert in nature, these agents blocks the irritation of the canker sores and its associated nerve endings. It does so by providing a surface cover that shields the site from irritation, stimulation from acidic salt or spicy foods and temperature changes.

When these protective agents are combined with therapeutic agents, a very effective benefit is obtained. These emollients prevent external stimulation of the wound site and also hold the therapeutic agent in place.

  1. Anesthetics

There are many OTC anesthetic products available for canker sores. When anesthetics are combined with other agents they provide relief from symptoms of canker sores. The most commonly used agent is benzocaine 5-20%, though benzocaine is an allergen, it should not be used by people who are allergic.

  1. Antiseptics

Antiseptics are very powerful cleaning agents. When used to treat canker sores, antiseptics cleanse the area and decrease the number of bacteria on the surface of the gum. The best antiseptic, to be used in this case is 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. To use hydrogen peroxide:

  • Dilute equal amount of 3% hydrogen peroxide with water.
  • Apply this solution directly to the canker sores or use it as a mouth rinser.
  • Alternatively, you can use sodium bicarbonate, either as a solution or as a paste. Use this solution for to clean your canker sores.
  1. Mouth Rinses

If you have many canker sores on your gums, your doctor may prescribe, a mouth rinse containing steroids to get rid of symptoms of canker sores such as pain and inflammation.

  1. Topical Products

Over-the-counter topical products such as pastes, creams, gels or liquids may help to relieve the symptoms of canker sores and speed healing, if applied immediately the sores begin to appear. Some of topical products that have active ingredients include: Benzocaine, Fluocinonide and Hydrogen Peroxide. You need to ask your doctor for advice on which one works effectively.

  1. Oral Medication

Oral medical in most cases are used when canker sores are severe or when they are not responding to topical treatments. Some of oral medication may include:

  • Oral steroid medications.
  • Oral medication intended to treat other conditions such as intestinal ulcers.
  1. Cautery of Sores

This is a process whereby an instrument or a chemical substance is used to destroy the ulcerating tissues.

When to visit a doctor

Consult your doctor in case of the following:

  • If you are experiencing a difficulty in eating or drinking due to canker sores.
  • High persistent fever along with canker sore
  • Excessive pain in the mouth which other self-care measures have failed to control.
  • Sores that extend into the lips themselves
  • Persistent sores, lasting two weeks or more,
  • Recurring sores, with new ones developing before old ones heal
  • Unusual large canker sores

Canker Sores in mouth Home Remedy

canker sore on gum treatment

how to get rid of canker sore on gums

There are over 20 ingredients that can be used to treat soreness in the mouth at home. Some among the have been discussed below. Choose any among them that may be appealing or convenient to you.


Tea tree oil has antiseptic as well as antibacterial ingredients that work effectively as skin disinfectants. This properties also help to get rid of the symptoms of canker sores such inflammation and pain. The use of canker sores reduces the risk of further spreading of can sores to other areas of inside the mouth.

  1. Mix equal part of water and tea tree oil.
  2. Use this solution to rinse your mouth.
  3. Do this 2 to 3 times a day until the canker sores goes away.


Aloe vera has ingredients with compounds that are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory in nature. These properties can help to get rid of the canker sores.

  1. Take an aloe vera plant leaf, open it up and extract the gel.
  2. Apply the gel directly over the canker sores
  3. Do these 2 times a day until the canker sores go away completely.
  4. Alternatively, you can rinse your mouth with fresh aloe vera juice four times a day. If fresh aloe vera is not available you can use the packaged version readily available in the market.


Licorice root has active ingredients such as glycyrrhizin, which has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to get rid of canker sores and soothe the affected area.

  1. Soak 1 tablespoon of powdered licorice root in 1 cup of water for 2 hours.
  2. Use this solution afterwards as a mouth rinse.
  3. Alternatively, you can directly apply licorice root extract to canker sores directly. This can help to reduce the size of the canker sores and speed up the healing process.


Coriander has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that can effectively alleviate symptoms of canker sores.

  1. Boil one teaspoon of coriander seeds or leaves in a cup of water.
  2. Strain the solution and then use it to rinse your mouth, 3 or 4 times a day.
  3. Alternatively, you can also drink the juice from fresh coriander leaves. Do not swallow it immediately. Try to keep it in your mouth for some time, so the juice can bathe the affected areas.


Honey has been used as a remedy for a very long period of time. Honey has compounds that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties help to sooth the canker sores, relieve the pain and inflammation.

  1. Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of turmeric powder.
  2. Mix thoroughly to form a paste.
  3. Apply this paste on the canker sores and leave it on for 15 minutes.
  4. Then, rinse the paste with distilled water.
  5. Alternatively, you can just apply honey directly around the affected area to ease pain and inflammation associated with canker sores.


Green tea contains tannic acid, which is astringent in nature; this factor helps to reduce pain and inflammation associated with canker sores and at the same time speed up the healing process.

  • You can use either use a black or a green tea bag. After making a cup of tea, put the wet tea bag in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
  • Press the chilled, wet tea bag gently over the canker sore for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Do this two to three times a day until the canker sore is gone.


Baking soda is alkaline in nature. This property helps restore the PH balance in the mouth. For treating canker sores, baking soda is a very effective remedy because it contains elements with anti-bacterial and antibacterial properties.

  1. Mix baking soda and a little water to make a paste.
  2. Apply this paste on the affected areas.
  3. You can also add some baking soda to warm water and use the solution as a mouth rinse several times a day.
  4. Alternatively, you can make a mouth rinse by mixing hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and salt. Rinse the canker sores with this solution four or five times a day. Within a day or two, you will feel relief from the pain and other symptoms associated with canker sores.


Sage has soothing properties that can instantly relieve pain associated with canker sores. It also has astringent and anti-inflammatory effect on canker sores.

  1. Add 3 teaspoon of sage leaves to two cups of boiling water and let it sleep for about 15 minutes.
  2. Allow the solution to cool and then rinse your mouth with it several times a day.
  3. Another alternative is to apply the powder form of sage leaves directly onto the canker sores. Do this several times a day. This should provide complete relief in a few days.


Magnesium hydroxide is commonly known as milk of magnesia for a variety of purpose. Many people use it as a laxative and as a treatment for constipation. Milk of magnesia also treats heartburn and acid reflux as well as indigestion. However, the antacid properties of milk of magnesia make it useful for treating cancer sores.

To use milk of magnesia:

  1. Sip a small amount of milk of magnesia and swish it around your mouth with your tongue, taking care to pay attention to the canker sores.
  2. You can also use a cotton swab to apply it to the canker sores 3 to 4 times a day.


Clove oil has been used effectively for a very long time as a painkilling ingredient. When clove oil is used in its purely extracted form, it produces fantastic results for a variety of oral ailments such as canker sores.

To use clove oil:

  1. First, rinse your mouth clean with warm water.
  2. Mix equal part of clove oil with tea tree oil.
  3. Soak a cotton swab in the solution and then apply it to the canker sores on your gum.
  4. Leave it to on for 30 minutes.
  5. Do this 2 to 3 times a day to get rid of the canker sores.


If you have recently acquired braces or you have just noticed that your check is rubbing against a tooth, you need to consider creating a waxy cap to reduce the friction and help the healing process.

To create a waxy cap:

  1. Melt beeswax and coconut oil in a pan.
  2. Allow the wax to cool and then apply the mixture to the part of the braces rubbing against the canker sores.
  3. If you are applying the wax onto dentures or braces, max sure you use plenty.


Aspirin is a highly effective remedy for canker sores. Aspirin is a strong pain killer; it takes the pain away from the sores very quickly, along with promoting rapid healing.

To use aspirin:

  1. Crush 2 tablets of aspirin between two spoons
  2. Sprinkle the powder on your canker sores.
  3. Let it slowly dissolve.
  4. Please note that you need to use either the baby or adult aspirin depending on the person.


Coconut oil has compounds that have powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients. These ingredients help to reduce pain and inflammation of the canker sores. It also helps to speed up the healing of the canker sores significantly. Organic coconut oil is also rich in anti-viral nutrients that boost the strength of the immune system.

To use coconut oil:

  • Simply dab some organic coconut oil on the affected sores as many times as you can throughout the day for quick relief.

How to Prevent Canker Sores

To prevent canker sores observe the following measures:

  • Avoid certain foods: avoid abrasive, acidic or spicy foods that can cause further irritation and pain. Such foods may include nuts, chips, pretzels, certain spices, salty foods and acidic fruits like grapefruit and oranges.
  • Take healthy diets: choose healthy foods rich in vitamin E, to prevent nutritional deficiencies, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Manage your stress: if your canker sores are as a result of stress. You need to learn to manage your stress. Learn to use stress reduction techniques such as medication and guided imagery.
  • Brush your teeth gently, using a soft brush and forming-agent-free toothpaste to prevent irritation to the delicate mouth tissues.
  • Protect your mouth. In case you have braces or other dental appliances, ask your doctor about orthodontic waxes to cover sharp edges.
  • Practice good oral hygiene habits: regular brushing after every meal and flossing once a day helps to keep your mouth clean and free of foods that might trigger a sore.


  1. Canker sore on gums symptoms
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  3. How long do canker sore last on gums
  4. Causes of canker sores on gums
  5. How long do canker sores last on gums