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Best mouth ulcer treatments 2023: Heal painful sores fast

Mouth ulcers can cause a great deal of discomfort. Our guide to the best mouth ulcer treatments will help to soothe and heal them quickly

Those who suffer with mouth ulcers know only too well how uncomfortable and painful these little sores can be. Usually occurring as a result of damage to the lining of the mouth, these round or oval-shaped sores can be found anywhere on the inside of your mouth or on the tongue. Thankfully, you don’t have to suffer for long; there are multiple products available on the market that offer to treat mouth ulcers, and below you’ll discover the products we recommend (and since one of our testers has suffered with mouth ulcers their entire life, we know what works!).

Our roundup of the best mouth ulcer treatments includes options that are designed to speed up healing, as well as formulas that numb your mouth to prevent further trauma and pain. First, however, our buying guide answers any questions you have about mouth ulcers and effective treatment.

Best mouth ulcer treatments: At a glance

How to choose the best mouth ulcer treatments for you

Let’s start by looking at some basic information on mouth ulcers.

What is a mouth ulcer?

Mouth ulcers are painful sores that appear in the mouth and on the tongue that can be highly uncomfortable. They’re usually round or oval in shape and can be yellow, white, red or even grey in colour, often feeling swollen. Sadly, it’s possible to have multiple mouth ulcers at once. Don’t confuse mouth ulcers with cold sores, however, which are blisters.

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Why do we get mouth ulcers?

We asked Susie Lloyd, dentist at Holt Dental Care and part of Bupa Dental care about the causes of mouth ulcers. “Mouth ulcers can usually be treated at home and should heal after 7-10 days. There are many reasons that we develop ulcers – some of which are predictable, some poorly understood. The cause of ulceration can be traumatic (wear from poorly fitting prosthesis – such as dentures, or an over-erupting wisdom tooth rubbing on the mucosa), infectious (herpes simplex virus, for example), drug induced (some drugs cause ulceration within the mouth as a side-effect or due to an interaction with other drugs you’ve been prescribed), due to systemic disease (erosive lichen planus or pemphigoid, for example), or as a result of malignancy or recurrent aphthous ulcers.

The latter are the least well understood; they heal quickly although often recur intermittently and are often linked to dietary deficiencies, stress, menstrual cycles or, bizarrely, quitting smoking. Ulceration that hasn’t healed after two weeks could be a sign of something more serious, such as mouth cancer, so it’s important to speak to your dentist, who can refer you directly to a specialist for further tests.”

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How can I prevent mouth ulcers from occurring?

Often there isn’t anything one can do to prevent a mouth ulcer, but there are steps you can take in your everyday life to try to minimise the number of mouth ulcers you get, particularly if you suffer with recurrent aphthous ulcers.

Toothpaste – Make sure you use a toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulphate, since this can be irritating and exacerbate mouth ulcers. There are plenty on the market; we’re big fans of the Sensodyne Pronamel toothpastes.

Vitamin B and zinc – There’s some evidence that suggests that those who suffer with mouth ulcers have low levels of vitamin B and zinc. It can help to take high-quality supplements to maintain correct levels of both.

Certain foods – Some people find their mouth ulcers get worse if they eat certain foods, although everyone is different. Common trigger foods include chocolate, spicy foods, coffee, peanuts, almonds, strawberries, cheese, tomatoes and wheat flour.

How we test mouth ulcer treatments

Our tester is a mouth ulcer sufferer and where possible, tests treatments over the course of several months. We primarily look at how effective the treatments are, how quickly they get rid of ulcers and how they help to reduce pain levels in the meantime. We also look at how easy they are to apply to the mouth ulcer and whether the pack comes with any applicators to make life easier. Other considerations include the taste of the treatment – it is going in your mouth, after all – as well as the formulation of the treatments for any potential allergy concerns.

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The best mouth ulcer treatments to buy in 2023

1. Gengigel First Aid Forte Oral Gel: Best treatment for chronic mouth ulcers

Price: £9 | Buy now from Boots

Gengigel makes a number of excellent products to help treat mouth ulcers. Its newest product is a maximum strength gel that contains four times the amount of hyaluronic acid as the brand’s standard gel. Studies have shown that hyaluronic acid can be very effective at reducing inflammation and helping to speed up healing.

We found the Forte Oral Gel extremely effective when it came to treating mouth ulcers. There was a definite reduction in the size of the ulcer after 24 hours and the gel also helped to reduce the level of pain suffered by forming a protective barrier.

The product is a little tricky to apply – and to keep on the mouth ulcer. We’d recommend patting the ulcer with a tissue to remove as much moisture as possible before applying the gel, since this will help it form a tighter seal. Note that you’ll also need to avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after application. You can apply the gel up to four times a day – in our opinion it’s probably at its most useful overnight, since you won’t be subconsciously touching the area.

Key details – Size: 8ml; Usage: Up to 4 times a day

2. Difflam Sore Throat Rinse: Best treatment mouthwash for numbing pain

Price: £8.50 | Buy now from Boots

Difflam’s Sore Throat Rinse is an extremely efficient way to get pain relief from ulcers throughout the day. The active ingredient of benzydamine effectively numbs the mouth and therefore reduces pain.

You can rinse or gargle with 15ml of the Difflam every 1 ½ – 3 hours as needed. There’s a little measuring cup provided, so you can measure out the correct amount of liquid. The rinse isn’t recommended for use for more than seven days, and make sure you don’t swallow after rinsing – apart from anything else, we wouldn’t recommend the taste!

We think the Difflam rinse is one of the most effective ways to numb your whole mouth and can be particularly useful if you’re unfortunate enough to have developed multiple ulcers. Use the rinse after eating and drinking for longevity of numbness.

Key details – Size: 200ml; Usage: Every 1 ½ – 3 hours, as needed

Buy now from Boots

3. Aloclair Plus Spray: Best mouth ulcer treatment for on-the-go touch-ups

Price: £4.95 | Buy now from Amazon

Dealing with the pain of a mouth ulcer when you’re out and about can be difficult, but Aloclair’s spray promises to bring relief: this alcohol free, non-stinging mist quickly forms a film over the mouth ulcer to help deliver pain relief, while also promoting healing.

We love the fact that this little bottle is easy to pop in a pocket or handbag to take out with you, and application is super-hygienic, being hands-free (meaning you can use it even if your hands aren’t the cleanest).

The spray’s long nozzle can be a little awkward to use if your ulcer is located near the front of your mouth, but with a little bit of practice and patience, you’ll hit the mark. Also, be aware it tastes of liquorice, which won’t be for everyone; but Gengigel also has a similar, tasteless spray available for those who aren’t fans.

Key details – Size: 15ml; Usage: As needed

4. Orajel Mouth Gel: Best for targeted numbing action

Price: £3.50 | Buy now from Amazon

With 10% benzocaine, Orajel is absolutely brilliant at numbing, allowing you to target the mouth ulcer directly. The manufacturer says that the gel has a passionfruit flavour, which we struggled to make out, although the gel doesn’t taste unpleasant.

In our experience, the gel was exceptionally good at numbing ulcers and relieving pain effectively for several hours. Be warned that it does sting momentarily on application, but it’s worth bearing with it for the results. The gel also reduces irritation and helps to speed up healing.

You can use the gel for up to four days in a row, and up to four times a day.

Key details – Size: 5.3g; Usage: 4 times a day maximum

5. Gengigel Mouth rinse: Best treatment mouthwash for healing

Price: £8.70 | Buy now from Amazon

Gengigel’s mouth rinse not only helps to treat mouth ulcers, but also delivers active protection against gum disease and gingivitis, and treats receding gums and lesions caused by braces. Originally developed to aid with the regeneration of gum tissue, the mouth rinse has the added benefit of helping ulcers to heal quickly.

The rinse has a minty taste and quite a thick consistency. You can feel it coating your mouth as you gargle or rinse with it, and any larger ulcers may feel a little stingy. However, it stays in place well and delivers long-lasting pain relief. Containing hyaluronic acid, use the rinse for a minute of two up to three to four times a day. You shouldn’t eat or drink for 30 minutes after use, and use it at a different time to brushing your teeth.

Key details – Size: 150ml (300ml also available); Usage: 3-4 times a day

6. Hydrocortisone Muco-Adhesive Buccal Tablets: Best mouth ulcer treatment for those with patience

Price: £13 | Buy now from Chemist Counter Direct

These small white tablets work by sticking to your mouth ulcer and releasing hydrocortisone – a type of steroid – as they dissolve to help speed up the healing of mouth ulcers.

We mention that this treatment option is best for those with patience because the tablets can be incredibly difficult to keep in place on your mouth ulcer, plus they take a long time to dissolve. If your mouth ulcer is in an awkward place, you’ll probably want to sit quietly with a mirror nearby so you can be sure the tablet is dissolving in the right place! However, the faff will be worth it because they are extremely efficient at clearing up mouth ulcers.

You can take up to four tablets a day, ideally leaving three to four hours between each dose. You can take them for up to five days at a time. Whilst they’re very effective, the fact that they contain a mild steroid means not everyone will be happy to take.

Key details – Size: 20 tablets; Usage: 4 times a day maximum

Buy now from Chemist Counter Direct

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