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Ooh, yuck: relief for aphthous ulcers

I've had a life-long problem with painful mouth sores, and I'm sure you want to hear all about it. No? Well, then this is for all the Googlers out there with the same problem. The rest of you can skip it.

After years of wondering whether I had some dreaded social disease, I've been assured by several dental and medical professionals that what I have are aphthous ulcers. They are a somewhat mysterious, non-contagious auto-immune problem: sometimes the mucous membranes in my mouth fight with themselves, resulting in a sore that takes a while to heal. Several things seem to aggravate them, including stress and certain foods, but the usual trigger is trauma -- a bump, or biting my cheek, or a visit to the dentist. Like this month when I had a root canal done, and ulcers sprang up wherever the dentist's tools abraded my mouth, putting raw sores in a strategic location to be irritated by the stubs of the sutures in my gum. Ow!

I've tried every over-the-counter and prescription remedy I could find. Three things seem to help:

  1. Rembrandt Canker Relief Gel. Actually, any over-the-counter benzocaine-based ointment provides temporary relief, but this one works the best for me. Unfortunately the Rembrandt soothing mouthwash didn't do much, nor did their special toothpaste. (Uh-oh -- this item seems to be sold out everywhere and is no longer listed at the Rembrandt site -- don't tell me they've discontinued it!)
  2. Chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse. Doesn't provide a quick fix, but a couple of days of rinsing with this stuff seems to make the sores heal up. It's said to turn your teeth brown if you use it too often, but the real downside is that it messes up your taste perception so everything tastes awful for several hours after you use it. (Maybe it would work for weight loss. :-) )
  3. Debacterol. "Sulphuric acid and sulfonated phenolics in aqueous solution" -- this is the elephant gun, to use when a sore is in an especially painful place and I can't stand it. Basically it cauterizes the exposed tissue so the sore is still there but no longer feeling pain. I'm not sure I'm supposed to have this stuff; the product literature is all aimed at dentists (I scored my little bottle from a dental assistant). It seems potentially quite dangerous if I get it in an eye or some other vulnerable spot, so I use it with extreme caution.
There you have it. Let us all pray for a cure before I post again.
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