Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, can cause significant discomfort several days in a row, making everyday activities like eating meals extremely uncomfortable. Knowing what to eat with canker sores can help ease symptoms without leaving you hungry between meals. Similarly, it’s important to know which foods cause canker sores to feel worse so you can avoid them until the sores are completely healed.
Identifying foods that people with canker sores should eat includes understanding which ones could make symptoms worse.
What Foods to Eat with Canker Sores
Which foods are good for canker sores? Anything soft and cool, such as gelatin, cottage cheese, smoothies, or yogurt can keep you eating comfortably. Avoid anything that’s rough or hot.
Some foods for canker sores also provide homeopathic relief, such as plant-based remedies created from rhubarb root. Additionally, studies have shown that honey can help ease pain from canker sores when applied topically.
If you’re still struggling with what to eat with canker sores, consider making a puree and adding butter or cream into the mixture. Although you’re adding additional fat content, it eliminates the need to use spices and can enhance the flavor of your food.
Foods that are typically served hot, such as mashed potatoes or oatmeal, are fine to eat as long as they’re allowed to cool.
Since most canker sores resolve within 10 to 14 days, it’s possible to modify your diet without taking too many extreme measures.
Which Foods Should Be Avoided?
What foods make canker sores worse? Anything that’s too crunchy, crispy, hard, acidic, salty, or spicy may cause pain, as well as alcoholic beverages and carbonated drinks. Although cigarettes and tobacco products may not be “food products” per se, they can also delay healing times and should be avoided when you have a canker sore.
Everyday foods like tomatoes, lemons, chips, or hard bread all fall in the category of what not to eat if you have an aphthous ulcer. The natural acids in some fruits and vegetables are enough to irritate canker sores, even if they don’t normally bother you. Likewise, watch out for sharp or hard edges on raw produce, even if they’re safe foods for canker sores otherwise.
Anything that you have to chew too much, which means stretching the mucous membranes inside your mouth, can cause irritation. How to eat with canker sores often comes down to understanding the point where it is or isn’t comfortable to move your mouth for chewing. Hard and firm textures tend to be problematic and should be avoided while your mouth is healing.
Can certain foods cause mouth sores?
What foods cause canker sores? Those with natural acids such as tomatoes, lemons, and pineapple may help form a canker sore. Physical contact with hot and spicy foods can also cause these ulcers. A high intake of carbonated beverages including sodas, seltzers, and “fizzy” drinks can also be to blame.
On a related note, certain dietary deficiencies may contribute to recurring aphthous ulcers. For instance, not getting enough whole grains, fiber, or dairy products may make some people more prone to developing canker sores than others, except in people who have milk or grain allergies, of course, in which case the opposite is true.
If you are prone to aphthous ulcers, it’s important to pay attention to what foods and drinks you eat. Certain foods can cause canker sores to flare up within 48 to 72 hours after exposure. When you know what not to eat with canker sores, and which foods trigger a flare, it’s easier to manage them overall.
Be sure to keep your diet in mind while also recognizing other canker sore triggers, such as stress, physical trauma from orthodontic appliances or biting your cheeks, or hormonal changes.
How to Eat with Canker Sores
Softer foods and liquids that are warm — such as soups — should be allowed to cool off before you eat them. Or better yet, choose to eat cool or cold foods if you have a canker sore. Make a point to select food items that require little chewing and can simply be swallowed, such as yogurt.
Smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help you feel satisfied if eating a larger midday meal proves too difficult or painful. Give yourself at least a week to 10 days before reintroducing warmer or spicier foods, as they may delay healing times. For best results, wait at least two weeks before returning to your normal diet.
The best foods for canker sores are soft and cool, not acidic, spicy, hard, or crunchy. For some people, it’s best to avoid certain foods entirely, as they act as triggers and may cause a canker sore, while others only need to refrain from them when they have an active aphthous ulcer.
Keep in mind that choosing the right foods for canker sores — like soft, cool snacks — isn’t the only step in easing discomfort. Experts also recommend not using any alcohol-containing oral care products like harsh mouthwash, or toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Instead, stick to gentler options that won’t cause irritation. Be sure to avoid possible irritation to the canker sore with your toothbrush, too. Instead, consider rinsing with warm salt water or a gentle rinse for mouth sores in that area to remove plaque and food debris, as well as ease symptoms.