Do you get canker sores? Read this.

Time for another gross health-related post!

It used to be I’d get canker sores once a month, often more. They come with a subtle pain that never quite goes away in your mouth. Nobody should have to endure this, and if you get canker sores I might have the solution for you.

The problem started when I was a teenager and all the conventional “cures” didn’t help much. Topical ointments taste bad and can’t reach the back of your throat. Peroxide mouthwash stings like crazy and takes a few days of use to work.

When I was in college I got frustrated and started searching for a better solution. Turns out, there was a ridiculously simple answer: switch toothpaste.

The theory is this: most toothpaste contains sodium-sulfate based cleansers, also known as “SLS.” These naturally derived cleansers are really powerful — so powerful they may irritate your mouth.

Fortunately there’s a few toothpastes out there containing other formulas. The cheapest and easiest to find is the Biotene toothpaste, which you can buy at Safeway and Target. My favorite is Squiggle, which you can find at Rainbow and other health food stores. To me, Squiggle has a better taste and texture, but they both work equally well. Both Biotene and Squiggle contain fluoride and a second natural cavity fighter, xylitol.

So if you get canker sores, find a toothpaste without SLS and try it for a while. (If you use mouthwash, make sure you get one that doesn’t contain SLS either.) It doesn’t cost much to try this for a while and see if it works for you.