Canker sores are tiny, often painful ulcers that occur on the inside of the mouth such as on the lips, tongue, throat or roof of the mouth. These small ulcers look a bit like craters. The medical term is aphthous stomatitis or aphthous ulcers.
Canker sores are often confused with cold sores and fever blisters but are very different. Canker sores in particular have a red border while the inside of the sore may appear yellow, gray or red. Unlike cold sores which are caused by a viral infection, cankers are considered as an oral lesion. Canker sores are also not contagious.
What Causes Canker Sores?
There are multiple possible causes for canker sores including;
- A mouth injury such as from dental work, vigorous brushing, sports accident or braces
- Food allergies or sensitivity especially common with highly acidic food and spicy food
- Dietary deficiency such as of iron, folic acid, vitamins B12
- Hormonal stress
- Emotional stress
- Allergic reaction to certain bacteria in the mouth
- Toothpaste made with sodium lauryl sulfate
- Gastrointestinal tract diseases such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease
Signs and Symptoms of Canker Sores
You will typically find canker sores on the gum, tongue, lips, roof of the mouth, soft palate and cheeks. Common symptoms include;
- Painful reddening in the mouth
- Small yellow or white oval-shaped ulcers in the mouth
- Tingling sensation in the mouth
Treatment of Canker Sores
Canker sores typically resolve naturally in a week or so without requiring any treatment. You should however visit your dentist or doctor if your symptoms include;
- Painful sores persist after two weeks
- Bleeding gums
- Trouble swallowing
- Canker sores accompanied with fever
- You aren’t feeling well for more than two or more days
There are also a few home remedies that can help you manage the condition including;
- Drinking milk or eating ice cream or yogurt
- Brushing and flossing regularly to avoid a bacterial infection
- Avoiding spicy foods to expedite the healing process
- Over the counter medication such as benzocaine, fluocinonide or hydrogen peroxide rinse for pain relief
How to Prevent Canker Sores
You can begin by avoiding foods that might have ignited the condition in the first place. Foods that are commonly associated with canker sores include acidic, salty and spicy foods.
Use calming techniques if you suspect that your canker sores are as a result of stress.
Finally, maintain good oral hygiene including brushing and flossing regularly. You may also.