What do you for canker sores? Most of us get these painful lesions inside the cheek or on the tongue occasionally. They cause misery for a few days and then they disappear. But some individuals suffer canker sores that keep coming back time after time. Is there any way to prevent recurrent canker sores?

Vitamin B12 Against Recurrent Canker Sores:

Q. I had canker sores all my life. They would last a week or two, go away for a month or so and come back. It made brushing my teeth very difficult because they were so painful.

About 20 years ago, my doctor suggested taking vitamin B12. I started taking 500 mcg daily. It took a while to work, but now I rarely get canker sores.

My daughter used to get them, too. When she was a teenager, I started her on B12, which worked. Now her little boy is getting them. He is four years old. Iā€™m wondering how old he should be to start taking the vitamin and at what dose.

What Could Be Causing the Problem?

A. With such a strong family history of recurrent canker sores, your daughter should ask the pediatrician to evaluate possible underlying causes. People with celiac disease often suffer from nutritional deficits that can cause canker sores (Journal of Dentistry, Oct. 2017). Too little folic acid, iron or zinc might be associated with this condition.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also contribute to severe canker sores (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Case Reports, June 12, 2019). If your grandson is low in this critical nutrient, the pediatrician can recommend the appropriate dose. The dose of vitamin B12 that you are taking is quite high, so we don’t know how much your grandson would need to prevent recurrent canker sores.

If nutritional deficiencies are not contributing, you may want to suggest that your daughter buy only SLS-free toothpaste. Some people find that the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate is linked to their canker sores.

Home Remedies for Canker Sores:

People who only get occasional canker sores can take their pick of home remedies to help them heal more quickly. Many people are enthusiastic about eating kiwi fruit at the first sign of pain. Other readers have gotten relief with red raspberry leaf supplements, chamomile mouthwash or hyaluronic acid mouth rinse. Swishing sauerkraut juice around in the mouth is another popular remedy. We don’t know whether other fermented liquids such as kombucha or kefir would also help.

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