Does Red Light Therapy Work for Mouth Ulcers? What Science Says

A cartoon styled mout with a canker sore and a red light therapy device emitting light on it

Yes, red light therapy can effectively help you manage mouth ulcers. It speeds up the healing process by stimulating cellular repair and enhancing tissue regeneration.

Red light therapy also reduces swelling and pain by moderating inflammatory cytokines and blocking pain signals, while activating endorphin release. This can lead to quicker recovery from the discomforting sores inside your mouth.

Devices like the Hooga Torch, Truslite Reusable Device, and Luminance Cold Sore Device are specifically designed for these treatments at home.

In he following post, you will learn all about

What are mouth ulcers?

Mouth ulcers, or canker sores, are small, painful spots that show up on the soft parts inside your mouth. You might find them on the inside of your cheeks, lips, tongue, gums, or even the top of your mouth. These sores can really make your day go bad as they make eating, drinking, and talking a painful task.

These ulcers usually start with a tingling or burning feeling before the actual sore appears. They look like little white or yellow dots with a red area around them.

Common Example of a Mouth Ulcer
Common Example of a Mouth Ulcer on lower lip / Source: Wikipedia

They pop up quite a bit, but why they appear can depend on different things. They might come up after you accidentally bite the inside of your cheek, brush your teeth too hard, or after dental work.

Mouth Ulcer on the inner cheek
Mouth Ulcer on the inner cheek / Source: VeryWellHealth

Eating spicy or acidic foods, feeling stressed, or going through hormonal changes can also cause them. Sometimes, if you’re not getting enough of certain vitamins or if you have some health problems, like issues with your immune system, you might get ulcers too.

Aphthous Ulcer
Aphthous Ulcer / Source:

Most of the time, these ulcers get better on their own in one or two weeks. But if they really bother you, there are some things you can buy at the store like special mouthwashes, gels or as we you’re about to find out, red light therapy devices that can help them heal faster and hurt less.

How Red Light Treatment for Canker Sores Works?

Red light therapy uses a “special kind” of light to kick-start your body’s own repair system. Here’s how it works in simple to understand and explain way:

First, this therapy shines specific red light waves onto the sore areas in your mouth. These waves go deep into your tissues and reach the mitochondria, which are like tiny energy factories inside your cells.

When these mitochondria “soak up” the red light, they start producing more ATP. (ATP is a molecule that powers almost everything cells do, including fixing and growing new tissue).

So, with more ATP, is like your cells get better at repairing themselves. This can make the sores in your mouth heal quicker than usual.

before and after images of a cold ulcer upon treated with Red Light Therapy
Before and after images of a cold ulcer upon treated with Red Light Therapy

Another cool thing about red light therapy is that it helps calm down swelling and pain. It lowers the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are substances that can cause inflammation. At the same time, it increases anti-inflammatory mediators that help reduce swelling and speed up healing.

Plus, red light therapy can make you feel less pain. It works by “blocking” the pain messages going to your brain and by helping your body release endorphins, which are natural painkillers. This double action helps make dealing with canker sores a lot more bearable.

What Science Says

From my research, I’ve found that the scientific evidence on Red Light Therapy Work on Mouth Ulcers is very string. Below is as summary for each research paper I’ve read that talks about RLT and Mouth Ulcers. Tap on the links to visit the papers and study them yourself.

  • A 2022 study published on Cureus looked at treating canker sores with two methods: a cream called triamcinolone and a special light therapy. They tested these on 54 people with canker sores. Both treatments helped reduce pain and make the sores smaller. But by day 3, the light therapy group had less pain and redness and their sores were healing better than the cream group. By day 10, both groups felt better with smaller sores.
  • A 2018 study published in The Pan African Medical Journal discussed using a special laser treatment for painful mouth ulcers called canker sores. They treated a 30-year-old woman who had these ulcers for two years. After laser treatment, the ulcers went away completely in five days, and the patient felt no more pain.
  • Going even back, a 2010 study published in the Photomedicine and laser surgery found that using low-level laser therapy (LLLT) helped reduce pain and heal recurring mouth ulcers (RAS). Patients who received laser treatment reported less pain and their ulcers disappeared faster compared to those treated with corticosteroid cream.
  • A 2009 scientific article published on the Chairside magazine and republished on website Glidewell found that using low-level laser therapy (LLLT) with a simple red laser pen helped heal mouth ulcers faster and reduced pain for patients. A single 30-second exposure to the laser reduced 88% of painful ulcers to comfortable levels within two days. This inexpensive and easy treatment method could be a useful option for treating oral ulcers in general practice.
  • A 2015 article published in the Lasers in Medical Science showed that both laser and LED therapy helped speed up the healing of mouth ulcers caused by formocresol in rats. Laser treatment worked faster initially, while LED therapy was more effective in the long run.
  • A prospective, randomized, controlled study published in 2001 found that using pulsed monochromatic light therapy alongside standard treatment helped elderly patients with pressure ulcers heal faster. Patients treated with this light therapy had a 49% higher healing rate and saw their ulcers close in less time compared to those who didn’t receive the therapy.
  • A 2014 study looked at using low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to treat canker sores. They found that LLLT helped reduce pain and speed up healing for patients with these ulcers. Patients who received LLLT had their ulcers healed in about 3 days, compared to 9 days for those who didn’t receive the treatment.

Red light therapy (RLT) or Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) looks promising for treating mouth ulcers, like canker sores. It helps ease pain and speeds up healing by stimulating healing cells. Patients who tried LLLT had their ulcers heal faster than those who didn’t. It’s simple, painless, and could be a great way to manage mouth ulcers.

What is the difference between canker sores and cold sores?

Canker sores and cold sores might both be painful and appear in your mouth, but they’re actually quite different from each other in a few key ways, like what causes them, how they spread, and how you treat them.

Canker sores aren’t caused by a virus. They show up inside your mouth as small and shallow spots that are often white or yellow in the center and have a red edge. They aren’t contagious, which means you can’t spread them to other people. Things like stress, changes in your hormones, or eating certain foods can trigger them.

Canker sore vs Cold sore
Canker sore vs Cold sore

On the flip side, cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and they’re very contagious. They usually pop up as painful blisters on your lips or around your mouth. You can catch cold sores or pass them on to others through direct touch, especially if the sore is leaking fluid.

When it comes to treatment, managing canker sores is mostly about easing the pain and discomfort. You can use over-the-counter products for this.

Cold sores, however, might need antiviral medicines to help lessen how severe and frequent the outbreaks are. Cold sores can come back again and again, especially when you’re stressed or sick, but canker sores don’t come back as often unless they’re triggered by something.

Here’s a table about the differences between Canker sores and cold sores that summarizes all the above:

Canker SoresCold Sores
DescriptionSmall, shallow ulcers inside the mouth, on gums, cheeks, or tongue. White or yellow in the center with a red border.Clusters of tiny blisters on the lips or around the mouth.
CauseNot caused by a virus. Triggered by factors like tissue injury, stress, hormonal changes, or certain foods.Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
ContagiousnessNot contagious. Cannot be passed from person to person.Highly contagious. Can be transmitted through close personal contact or contact with blister fluid.
TreatmentManage symptoms with over-the-counter topical treatments or mouth rinses.Antiviral medications may be prescribed to reduce severity and duration.
RecurrenceTend to heal within a week or two. May recur if triggered by specific factors.Can recur periodically, especially during times of stress, illness, or weakened immune system.

How To Treat Cancer Sores at home?

When you’re struggling with painful canker sores at home, consider using devices like the Hooga Torch, Truslite Reusable Canker Sore Treatment Device, or the Luminance Cold Sore Device.

These are the highest rated red light therapy torches that can potentially reduce pain and accelerate healing.


The Hooga Torch offers a targeted treatment for mouth ulcers using a combination of red and near-infrared light at specific wavelengths—460nm, 630nm, 660nm, 850nm, and 940nm.

This device is designed for easy at-home use, with a built-in 3-minute timer to aid in managing treatment duration.

The package includes two rechargeable batteries, protective eye glasses, a user manual, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.

To use, simply position the device above the ulcer for 1 to 3 minutes daily. This method may help alleviate pain and speed up healing of mouth ulcers.

Use Hooga Discount code EXTRA12 to get 12% OFF your order.

2. Truslite Canker Sore Treatment Device

red light therapy for mouth ulcers

The Truslite Reusable Canker Sore Treatment Device is designed for those looking for a natural and efficient remedy for canker sores.

It uses red and near-infrared light therapy, providing safe and effective 60-second treatments. This device is user-friendly, with a lightweight, portable build and a built-in battery, enabling use on the go.

It is particularly effective when used early on, helping to alleviate pain and accelerate healing not just for canker sores, but also for cold sores and minor skin irritations.

3. Luminance Cold Sore Device

clinically proven light therapy

The Luminance RED cold sore device is a class II medical device that is both FDA approved and clinically proven to effectively manage oral sores.

Designed with high-quality materials, it ensures precision and safety in each use. Users report that it significantly reduces the frequency of breakouts and accelerates healing compared to traditional treatments like creams and pills.

Ideal for individuals who suffer from frequent cold sores, this device offers a fast, safe, and non-invasive treatment option. Regular use can help prevent and treat cold sores, adding a valuable tool to your healthcare routine.

Final Words

If you’re tired of dealing with the pain of mouth ulcers, red light therapy might be worth a try. This non-invasive treatment can soothe your discomfort, reduce inflammation, and speed up healing by stimulating your body’s own processes.

Also, you’ve got the science..

If you check the products I recommend, you’ll see that personal experience is there too..

While it’s not a guaranteed fix, many find it a helpful addition to their oral health regimen.


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