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Coffee & Health

Does Coffee Cause Canker Sores?

If you’ve ever had canker sores, you know they make you quite uncomfortable. They only appear once in a while in some people, while others seem to get them all the time.

Canker sores or aphthous ulcers occur in sensitive parts of the mouth. Their name comes from a Greek word meaning “to set on fire.” That could refer to the pain they cause when they appear in the cheeks, tongue, lips, and gums, making it hard to eat.

These sores are not contagious. Therefore you don’t have to worry that someone gave them to you. They are triggered by stress, dehydration, or hormonal issues, especially during the menstrual cycle.

Asian woman with canker sore on her lip

You could also get canker sores because your immune system is weak. That often happens because of a lack of nutrients such as iron, vitamin B-12, and zinc in the diet.

Cankersores could also pop – up when you use some heart medications, or personal care products, such as toothpaste containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Some people are also genetically predisposed to getting these sores.

While all these are common causes of canker sores, sensitivity to certain foods is the commonest. These are strawberries, spicy foods, chocolate, citrus fruits, and coffee.

If you love drinking coffee, you may be surprised that it can cause canker sores. That’s because it is a beverage that’s packed with antioxidants. The most you would expect from it is jitters after taking too many cups.

Coffee can not only cause canker sores, but it can also make them worse. How does this happen? Let’s find out.


Why Does Coffee Cause Canker sores?

About one in five people have mouth ulcers and canker sores repeatedly. And acidic foods and beverages like coffee are the cause of their constant discomfort.

While coffee provides our bodies with many benefits due to its antioxidant content, some of its compounds can cause canker sores. These are usually acidic compounds, a big culprit being salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid irritates the sensitive areas of the mouth, causing small oval wounds with red edges that are very painful.

Canker sores can last for 2 weeks or more if left untreated. Most people who get these sores repeatedly get them at least 2 times per year. With these statistics, you can see that coffee cannot be the cause of canker sores all the time.

If you are getting these sores all the time and suspect coffee triggers them, you should perform a food test to find out what is causing them.

Once you discover coffee is not the cause, you may enjoy your cup of joe without worrying and find other solutions for your canker sores.


How to Find Out If Coffee is Causing Your Canker Sores

Many foods can cause canker sores, therefore, drinking coffee is not the only trigger. When you perform a food test, you can find out whether coffee is causing your sores or not.

That means eliminating coffee from your diet for a few weeks. If coffee is responsible for your sores, you should notice them healing once you stop taking it and find no other breakouts popping up.

However, if other foods you are still taking have caused the sores, they will remain. You should then continue eliminating foods and beverages specifically acidic ones from your diet until you find the cause of your sores.

Also, make sure you take vitamin-rich foods to ensure vitamin deficiencies do not cause a canker sores breakout during your food test .

If your sores heal after you stop eating a certain food, then it’s the trigger and you should avoid it. You may continue enjoying coffee if you find out it’s not the cause of your canker sores.


How Can You Prevent Coffee From Causing Canker Sores

If you find that coffee is causing your canker sores, try reducing your intake. You could also change the coffee beans you use to brew coffee.

Light roast coffee beans contain more acid than dark roasts. If you are using them a lot to brew coffee, consider switching to less acidic roasts such as medium to dark roast coffee beans.

The way you brew your coffee could also increase its acidity. Cold brewing is an excellent way of making coffee that is low in acid.

You should also note that some coffee machines brew more acidic coffee than others. For example, Keurig coffee machines produce a strong brew that’s higher in acidity compared to coffee brewed in coffee pots.

You may also switch to decaf coffee which tastes like coffee and is low in acid. That may help you cut down on your caffeine content.

There are also coffee producers that have low acid coffee brands for those affected by the acid content in regular coffee.

Some examples are Tyler’s no Acid coffee, Puroast Organic house blend, and volcanica low acid coffee blend.

You should also avoid staying without brushing after drinking coffee. Any traces of food or drink you leave in your mouth can cause some form of mouth infection or soreness, especially if they are acidic.


How to Treat Canker Sores

Now that you know coffee can cause canker sores, and other foods that are known to trigger them, what do you do once you get them?

Although canker sores heal after about 2 weeks, they are very painful while they last. There are ways to survive as you wait for canker sores to disappear.

You could make popsicles out of nutritious beverages such as juices and have them any time you feel dehydrated. The coolness of the popsicles will also calm the irritation caused by the sores.

Some people also use hydrogen peroxide to treat mouth sores either by gurgling  it in water like mouthwash or applying it on the canker sores using cotton balls.

Honey can also relieve the pain caused by canker sores and promote their healing due to its antiseptic properties.

And while you may be a coffeeholic, taking it when dealing with canker sores will only make them worse.

Therefore, avoid indulging in your favorite coffee drink and other acidic beverages until the sores heal.

Focus on eating foods rich in iron, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B – 12, and calcium to solve any dietary deficiencies that may have caused the sores.

Remember to keep citrusy foods out of your diet to avoid irritating your sores.



Now that you know coffee causes canker sores, you can reduce its intake if you are prone to them.

If you’ve been suffering from these sores for some time, we’ve given you a few tips to help you keep them at bay.

Once you apply these solutions such as avoiding acidic beverages and foods, you may find that canker sores are a thing of the past.

If you must take coffee, try the low acid coffee brands we’ve suggested to avoid triggering infections or causing wounds in your mouth.

That way you don’t have to miss out on your favorite coffee brew just because you are afraid of getting canker sores.


Also Read:

Does Coffee Cause Yeast infections?