How to Prevent Canker Sores

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Do you get frequent canker sores? It turns out there are many ways you can try to help prevent them. Find out how diet, stress, and trauma play a role in all of this.

Eating Right

You're probably sick and tired of hearing how eating healthy is important for you, right? It's good for your brain, good for your heart, and so much more. Well, here's another one. Eating right can also be really good for your mouth. And I'm not talking about cavity prevention. I'm talking about strategies for preventing canker sores.

What are Canker Sores?

If you don't know what canker sores are, consider yourself lucky. Canker sores are relatively small, shallow, round, white-yellow ulcers within the mouth. They are typically painful, even extremely so, and can appear on the tongue, inside of cheeks or roof of your mouth. These guys can appear inside of the mouth alone or in clusters. While most of them go away within a week or two after they graciously appear, the really big ones can take months to resolve and can even leave scars inside of the mouth as a result.

This is what many canker sores look like.
Canker Sore

How to Prevent Canker Sores

Seeing as pain and scars aren't anyone's idea of a fun time, it's best to try and prevent cancer sores. Keep in mind that these strategies aren't a cure. Canker sores often come back. However, there are preventative measures people can take that can lessen the frequency with which they come back.


In order to understand how we can prevent canker sores, we need to understand some of the things that may trigger their appearance. For example, foods like nuts or chocolate may cause canker sores. Therefore, avoid food triggers you know bring about these guys. Other people may need to avoid pretzels, various spices, and citric foods, like oranges, in order to prevent canker sores. And if you know you are allergic to one food or another, well, don't eat it!

When eating, choose healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you're not sensitive to. One obvious reason is that you avoid eating something that triggers a canker sore. However, there is actually another reason. Some canker sores are caused by nutritional deficiencies, like a deficiency in iron, zinc, folic acid, or vitamin B-12. Eating foods rich in these guys may help prevent canker sores. Iron can be found in apples. Sesame seeds contain a lot of zinc. Various meats and fortified cereals contain vitamin B12. Folic acid is found aplenty in Popeye's favorite food, spinach!


Other than nutritional issues, trauma can also result in canker sores. So if you bite the inside of your lips, stop. If you have braces, talk to your dentist about ways you can cover their sharp edges. If you brush your teeth really vigorously, consider switching to a soft brush to avoid irritating your mouth.

But don't stop brushing! In fact, regular brushing keeps your mouth clean and free of particles of food that may cause canker sores. If you use a mouthwash, ensure it doesn't have an ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate, as it may cause canker sores in some people.


Finally, chill out! Stress is a trigger for canker sores. Ways you can help prevent canker sores by fighting stress include meditation, yoga, and favorite activities like painting, hiking, and exercise in general.

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