Canker sores are a type of mouth sores that are not contagious, unlike cold sores. These are the most common type of mouth ulcer that are painful, open, and round. Canker sores can show up on the inside of the lips and cheeks, on the tongue, at the base of the gums or anywhere else inside the mouth. There are two different kinds of canker sores. It may be simple – may appear 3-4 times a year or complex which are less common and may appear more often.
Canker sores are mostly hereditary. However, there are other risk factors that may be causing canker sores aside from genes. These are:
- Ill-fitting Dentures or anything with sharp surfaces
- Weakened Immune System
- Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency (Zinc, Iron, Calcium, etc.)
- Hormonal Fluctuations
- Food Allergy
Before a canker sore develops, you may experience:
- Burning or tingling sensation in an area inside your mouth
- Small white or yellowish oval shaped ulcer in your mouth
Canker sores often heal on their own. It usually takes about 10-14 days before the pain totally fades as well as the sores even if you don’t do anything about it. However, there are times that these sores become larger, last longer, cause intolerable pain, high fever or start to show up more frequently. An alarming situation like this should be immediately consulted to your dentist.
Several tests such as blood tests or biopsy are needed to determine that the sore is not a different or more serious disease. In a biopsy, the area is numbed for a while and a small chunk of tissue is removed to be examined in the laboratory.
Since there is no specific immediate cure for canker sores, you can try the following remedies at home to at least lessen the pain and promote faster healing:
- Applying ice directly to your sores
- Gargling with warm water and a teaspoon of baking soda or salt
- Applying honey on your sores
- Applying over-the-counter ointments
These may sting or be a little uncomfortable at first but sooner or later, it will help reduce the pain.
You can reduce the frequency of a canker sore occurring by brushing or flossing your teeth regularly to prevent bacterial infection. As much as possible, avoid spicy, salty, or acidic food or drinks and allergy causing food. You can also try living a much healthier lifestyle since stress and nutrient deficiency may cause canker sores. Practice good oral health and switch to a softer bristled toothbrush to avoid irritation of your gums and soft tissue.