A canker sore is a mouth ulcer or sore that is open. They are commonly found on the inside of lips or cheeks. They are also found on the gums and under the tongue. Canker sores are usually white or yellowish oval shaped sores and surrounded by red, irritated tissue. Canker sores are most common during adolescence and young adulthood and become less common as we age. About 1 in 5 children develop a canker sore. Though often confused for cold sores, they are not related. In addition, canker sores are not contagious.
Canker Sore Causes
Researchers are not sure what is the exact cause of a canker sore, however they believe a combination of factors may contribute.
Potential contributing factors include:
- accidental cheek bite
- food sensitivities
- vitamin deficiencies
- allergic response to bacteria in your mouth
- hormone changes
- toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate
Cankers sores may occur because of diseases such as:
- celiac disease
- Chrohn’s disease
- ulcerative colitis
- Behcet’s disease
- immune system issues
Canker sores usually heal on their own within a few weeks, with pain diminishing in about a week. If your canker sore has not healed in three weeks, you may need to seek medical care. Several over the counter remedies exist, including pastes, gels, or mouth rinses with ingredients to minimize canker sore pain. A doctor may prescribe oral medication for severe canker sores.
To help healing at home you can use a salt-water rinse. In addition, it is advisable to avoid spicy or acidic foods, which can exacerbate the sore. You may also find relief in allowing ice chips to dissolve over the sore. Lastly, it’s important to brush your teeth gently (including with a gentle toothpaste) to avoid irritating the sore further.
If you can identify what triggers canker sores in your mouth, it is best to avoid it. Pay attention to potential food allergies. Eat healthfully to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Always practice good oral health and brush daily and floss and use mouthwash regularly.