Canker sores are a common but painful irritation. Usually the day before a canker sore fully develops you can begin to feel it forming. But why do canker sores form? And is there any way to prevent them? Let’t dive into it!
What is a Canker Sore?
Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are painful but shallow lesions inside your mouth. They are commonly white or yellow-tinged and have a crater-like shape. The outside rim is red and inflamed. Canker sores are incredibly sensitive to acidic foods. Most canker sores are minor and shallow and will heal on their own in 7-14 days. Some may be deeper and take up to 6 weeks to completely heal. If you’re concerned about the size or duration of your canker sore, call your dentist for advice. They can form on your gums or lips, or under your tongue. The pain can make eating difficult and painful.
Causes of Canker Sores
Contrary to popular belief, canker sores are not a result of herpes virus. (Although a similar issue: cold sores is linked.) Many different factors can combine to increase the chance of a canker sore forming. Here are some known triggers that are likely to cause a canker sore:
- a minor injury to your soft tissues (dental, sports, cheek bite, etc)
- hormonal fluctuations
- allergic response to bacteria in your mouth
- dietary deficiencies of folid acid, Vitamin B12, or iron
- oral care products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate
- some food sensitivities
Additionally, sometimes canker sores are the result of an underlying condition or disease such as:
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory diseases
- Autoimmune conditions
It’s more common for young adults, teens, and women to have canker sores. Additionally, a propensity for developing canker sores often runs in families. Studies have not made clear whether genetics or environment is more likely the cause for this correlation.
The best way to reduce the risk of developing these painful sores is to avoid common triggers.
- Manage your stress: find healthy stress management strategies to keep your anxiety levels at a healthy level.
- Avoid nutritional deficiencies: It’s best to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure your body gets proper nutrition. If you think your diet doesn’t provide enough vitamins and minerals discuss the benefits and negatives of supplementing with over-the-counter vitamin pills.
- Avoid Mouth Injuries:
- Wear proper mouth-guards when playing sports.
- Chew your food intentionally and slowly.
- Brush your gums gently with a soft-bristled brush.
- Avoid toothpastes and mouth washes with irritants such as sodium lauryl sulfate
- Learn Your Triggers: Try to pay attention to any common factors that cause canker sores. Especially observe if there are any particular foods that irritate your mouth or cause itching.
Unfortunately, the best cure for a canker sore is just time. If the pain is unbearable, you can rinse with lukewarm water with salt or baking soda to rinse the wound. Drink plenty of water to help remove irritants and heal the wound faster. Some studies have found adhesive tablets with time-released medication to be an effective cure. Additionally, you can apply an oral anesthetic such as Orajel, Orabase, or Vanos to help numb the area.
Although painful, canker sores are common and should not concern you. Still have questions about your canker sore? Give our office a call at 719-633-8766! We’d love to help!