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Anbesol vs Orajel – Which Works Better For Canker Sores or Toothache?

Anbesol vs Orajel – Which Work Better For Canker Sores or Toothache

Canker sores are shallow lesions which develop on the soft tissues in the mouth. Canker sore symptoms include:

  • a tingling sensation in the mouth;
  • a painful red area in the mouth;
  • a small yellow or white oval-shaped ulcer in the mouth.

Below is a comparison of two over-the-counter oral health care products:


It contains benzocaine, a medicine which is mainly useful for topical application.

Benzocaine is part of a family of medicines called local anesthetics that helps numb the area it is applied to.


It is an OTC medicine whose active ingredient is benzocaine, which is used to relieve mouth pain.

Unlike slower acting oral analgesics, its topical application works by directly targeting the source of pain.



This medicine is used for the treatment of:

  • periodontitis (a gum infection which destroys the bone that supports the teeth);
  • skin infections;
  • canker sores;
  • eye infections;
  • gingivitis;
  • a toothache;
  • dental plaque;
  • minor burns;
  • hemorrhoids (common irritations around the rectum);
  • ingrown toenails;
  • vaginal or rectal irritation;
  • sunburn;
  • sore throat;
  • pain during certain medical procedures;
  • scrapes.


It is used for the temporary and rapid relief of toothache pain associated with direct exposure of a vital dental pulp and the presence of open carious lesions.

Also, it can be used for canker sores and skin infections.

Mechanism of Action

Anbesol works by blocking nerve signals in the body.

Orajel works by blocking the conduction and generation of nerve impulses at any part of the neuron with which it comes in contact.

Side Effects


The most common side effects associated with this medical treatment during clinical studies included:eczema skin itch

  • dry white flakes where the medicine was applied;
  • skin redness;
  • skin tenderness;
  • mild burning, stinging or itching where the medicine is applied.

Call your healthcare provider at once if you experience a serious side effect, such as:

  • any signs of infection;
  • blistering;
  • oozing;
  • warmth, swelling, or redness;
  • sensitivity where the medicine is applied;
  • severe burning where the medicine is applied.


The most common adverse events associated with this medical treatment during clinical studies included:

  • dry white flakes where this over-the-counter oral health care product was applied;
  • skin tenderness or redness;
  • mild stinging or itching where this medicine is applied.

Call your healthcare professional at once if you experience a serious side effect, like:

  • blistering or any signs of infection;
  • warmth or redness;
  • severe burning or sensitivity where this over-the-counter oral health care product is applied.



Apply a thin layer to the affected area. You may apply up to 4 times per day. It is recommended not to exceed 7 days of use.

In order to safely apply it, first wash your hands and pat them dry.

Do not drink or eat for at least 60 minutes after using this medicine. Also, rinse mouth before reinserting dentures.


Dosage: Apply a small amount of medicine to the affected area. Use up to 4 times per day.

Warnings & Precautions


This product is not recommended for children younger than two years old since, in children under two, the active ingredient can cause methemoglobinemia, a condition where oxygen levels in the blood are abnormally low.

Symptoms of methemoglobinemia may include:stomach ulcer pain

  • loss of consciousness;
  • confusion or stupor;
  • fatigue and lethargy;
  • rapid heart rate;
  • nausea;
  • shortness of breath;
  • headache;
  • chocolate-brown colored blood;
  • cyanosis (the bluish or purplish discoloration of the mucous membranes or skin).

More importantly, US Food and Drug Administration called on the manufacturers to stop marketing this product for teething (and similar OTC products that contain benzocaine) and to add a warning about methemoglobinemia to the medicine label.


If you don’t wash your hands and you get the medicine in the eyes, it can cause irritation and damage.

Therefore, it is recommended to wash your hands after you use this product.

It is not recommended for people suspected of lacking the normal capacity to convert methemoglobin to hemoglobin.

Additionally, do not use more than 3 times a day and avoid eating or drinking for approximately one hour after using the medicine inside the mouth or on your gums.

Also, do not use this product on a child younger than 2 years old without your doctor’s advice.

Drug Interactions

Both over-the-counter medicines may interact in a negative way with the following medications:

  • sodium nitrite (a common ingredient added to processed meats);
  • prilocaine (a local anesthetic that is used on the skin or in the genital area);
  • lidocaine/prilocaine topical;
  • epinephrine/prilocaine (a local anesthetic);
  • sodium nitrite/sodium thiosulfate.


Using alcohol with certain medicines may cause interactions to occur.

However, there is no data regarding alcohol intake and these OTC products.

Is It Safe During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding?


It is not known precisely whether this local anesthetic passes into breast milk or if it could affect in a negative way a nursing infant.

Ask a healthcare provider before using benzocaine if you are breastfeeding an infant. 

It is not known for sure whether benzocaine will harm an unborn baby. Ask a healthcare provider before using benzocaine if you are pregnant.


It is not known precisely whether this over-the-counter medicine passes into breast milk or if it could negatively affect a nursing infant.

Ask a healthcare professional before using this local anesthetic if you are breast-feeding a baby.

It is not known whether this over-the-counter medicine will harm an unborn baby. Ask a healthcare professional before using this local anesthetic if you are pregnant.

Bottom Line – Anbesol vs Orajel: Which Is Better For Canker Sores And Toothache?

Anbesol is an over-the-counter medicine that is used to relieve pain associated with canker sores, cold sores, and toothaches. It contains as the main ingredient – benzocaine.

Contraindicated for teething pain and use in children younger than 2 years due to the risk for methemoglobinemia.

Orajel is a topical pain reliever. It contains as the main ingredient – benzocaine, a topical anesthetic that numbs the part of the human body it touches by blocking nerve signals which are telling the brain that you should be in pain.

According to the data, both over-the-counter oral health care products are a good solution for patients to temporarily relieve them of pain if they experience a canker sore or a toothache.

Both have the same active ingredient (benzocaine) and the difference lies in their inactive ingredients, brand name, and price.


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