Canker sores are common and affect about 20% of people, with women seemingly more susceptible. These small, painful ulcers can appear inside the mouth, on the tongue or the inside lining in the mouth, like the cheeks or lips. No matter where or when they turn up they can be painful, and we know you want them gone!
What is a Canker Sore?
Also known as aphthous ulcers, a canker sore is a minor sore that is usually just 3 to 10 millimeters in size. These small, shallow ulcers form as lesions in the soft tissue in the mouth, like the inside cheeks or base of gums. Canker sores are not the same as cold sores and aren’t contagious.
While most cankers are small and go away on their own in about a week, some major canker sores can develop that are larger. These larger, major canker sores can be very painful and take weeks to heal. Canker sores typically don’t occur regularly so if you experience recurring canker sores, very large sores or persistent ones that are not improving, it’s time to see your family practitioner doctor.
Why Do Canker Sores Appear?
Although common, the exact reason canker sores appear is unclear. Often a canker sore develops for one or a combination of reasons:
- Using toothpaste or mouthwash and rinses that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Sensitivities to foods such as chocolate, coffee, eggs, nuts, and spicy or acidic foods.
- Minor mouth injuries, an accidental cheek bite or brushing too harshly.
- Hormonal shifts, such as during menstruation, or emotional stress.
- Certain conditions, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or a suppressed or rundown immune system.
How to Prevent Canker Sores
No matter what makes a person prone to canker sores, we’re sure you’ll agree that you’d like to avoid them altogether! Unfortunately, because the cause is not certain, you can only take precautionary measures to try to prevent or reduce the likelihood of canker sores from developing.
Avoid citrus fruits, acidic vegetables, and spicy foods that can irritate the soft tissue inside the mouth.
Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush to reduce irritation.
Cut down on gum chewing and never chew on pencils or ice that can bother the mouth and damage teeth.
If you have braces or dentures, take extra care to protect the inside of your mouth to avoid damage or inflammation.
Try relaxation practices, such as regular exercise or meditation, to lower stress.
Keep up good oral hygiene habits by brushing twice every day and flossing regularly.
We know canker sores can be a literal pain but understanding how to care for your mouth can help maintain oral health and help to reduce the likelihood of a canker sore developing!
Reading to schedule your next dental checkup and cleaning, or are you interested in ways to improve your smile? Call the team at North Boulder Dental at (303) 447-1042 or contact us online to schedule an appointment!