All You Need To Know About Canker Sores

All You Need To Know About Canker Sores

“Canker sore” is the layman’s term for an aphthous ulcer. They typically appear as small, flat, white or off-white lesions on the soft tissues of the mouth such as the inner lips, the base of the gums, under the tongue and on the cheeks. They do not appear on any keratinized tissues, such as that of the top of the tongue. Canker sores differ from cold sores in that they do not appear on the lips, and they are not contagious. 

What Causes Canker Sores?

There is not always an easy answer to this question. Some people are more prone to canker sores than others, and some people rarely get them. A combination of factors may cause an outbreak. Possible causes may include: 

  • Emotional or physical stress 
  • Lack of sleep or fatigue 
  • Sensitivity to certain foods such as acidic fruits and vegetables (tomato, lemons)
  • Minor trauma from an injury or dental work 
  • Tongue or cheek biting 
  • Low vitamin b12 levels 
  • Use of toothpaste or mouthwash that contains sodium lauryl sulphate 
  • Certain oral bacteria 
  • Certain medical conditions such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, Behcet’s Disease and HIV/AIDS

Risk Factors For Canker Sores 

Canker sores most commonly affect young adults and youth and are more common in females than in males. In addition, there is also a family link for canker sores, whether this is from a genetic predisposition or from environmental factors such as a similar diet or allergens. 

How to Prevent Canker Sores 

Canker sores are sometimes inevitable, but there are ways to reduce the frequency and severity of them. 

  • Avoiding foods that are known irritants (such as spicy, acidic and tart foods)
  • Take a vitamin b12 supplement if you have a diet low in vitamin b12
  • Reduce your stress
  • Protect your mouth from irritants and injuries 
  • Find a toothpaste and mouthwash that works for you 
  • Maintain good oral hygiene 

Treatment of Canker Sores 

The most important factor is time. Canker sores will usually go away on their own in a week or less. If the canker sore is particularly large, it may take several weeks. Some ways to help speed up the healing or relief the symptoms are:

  • Off the shelf oral or topical medications for pain relief 
  • Dab magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesium) on the sore several times a day 
  • Rinsing with salt water morning and evening 
  • Apply ice to the area by sucking on ice chips 

If you get frequent canker sores or have any questions about preventing canker sores, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment. 

What Are Canker Sores?

What Are Canker Sores?

What are canker sores?

Canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers, are painful ulcerated lesions that occur inside the mouth. They are not contagious and cannot be spread to other people. Canker sores are relatively common, affecting about 20% of the general population.

What does a canker sore look like?

They appear as shallow ulcerated lesions, whitish in colour and surrounded by a red halo. They can occur as a single lesion, or there can be multiple lesions at one time.

Where can canker sores appear?

They occur on the inside of the mouth, on the tissues that are not attached to the bone. Common areas are the underside and border of the tongue, soft palate and the inside of the lips and cheeks.

What causes canker sores?

There is no apparent cause of canker sores, but some possible triggers include:
Trauma to the oral tissues.
Acidic foods such as citrus fruits.
Emotional stress.
Hormonal changes.
Sensitivity to sodium lauryl sulfate (a common ingredient found in many toothpastes).
Weakened immune system.
Food allergies or sensitivities.
Nutritional deficiencies.
Certain medical conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and HIV.

Types of canker sores:

Minor– This is the most common type. These lesions can be up to 1 cm in diameter and usually heal in about 7 to 10 days.

Major– Lesions are larger than 1 cm in diameter and last longer than the minor type. They are often very painful and may leave scarring upon healing.

Herpetiform– These lesions are very tiny, about 1-2 mm in diameter and usually occur in groups. They are called herpetiform because they resemble lesions caused by the herpes virus.

canker sore rinse

Treatment– Although canker sores are self-limiting, treating the symptoms may make them more tolerable. For minor symptoms, simply rinsing with warm salt water or a rinse for mouth sores (such as Colgate Peroxyl) can bring relief. Topical steroids or analgesics are treatment options if the lesions are very painful and recurring.

If you suffer from painful oral lesions, call us today.