What Are Mouth Canker Sores – The Basics Behind The Problem

Do you often feel a burning sensation on a part of your tongue, the insides of your cheeks, or on the roof of your mouth? Stay safe, because you just might be facing the initial signs of mouth canker sores.

mouth canker sores

Stress is one of the most common causes of mouth canker sores.

Mouth canker sores usually start out with these minor symptoms, and later manifest as painful ulcers. Doctors call these sores “aphthous ulcers” to distinguish them from cold sores that appear on the lips or along the outer edges of the mouth. Adolescents are more likely to develop mouth canker sores as are people who suffer from excessive stress.

How Do Mouth Canker Sores Form?

While the precise cause behind such sores is not clearly known, it is an accepted fact that some forms of tissue injury or stress can lead to their formation. The consumption of acidic vegetables or fruits such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, pineapples, and strawberries may trigger the appearance of mouth canker sores. Dentures that do not fit well or teeth braces may also lead to canker sores, and sometimes, the sharp edge of a tooth may lead to injuries that result in these sores.

The human body needs a lot of vitamins and minerals in the right proportions to keep functioning normally. These nutrients play a major role in the metabolic cycles and therefore, a deficiency of these may lead to certain conditions – of which, one is mouth canker sores. Many people with nutritional deficiencies – especially of vitamin B-12, folic acid, zinc, and iron develop canker sores. Similarly, those with celiac disease, immune system-related disorders, or Crohn’s disease may also suffer from such painful sores more often than people without such disorders.

Physical exhaustion or mental stress are likely to set off mouth canker sores. Women undergoing their menstrual cycle and teenagers are also more likely to develop these sores. Sometimes, a food allergy may be the cause of these sores too.

Identifying Mouth Canker Sores

Mouth canker sores are often confused with cold sores, but the major difference between the two is the location of the sores.

While canker sores typically appear within the mouth cavity, cold sores are almost always located on the outside – on or around the lips or below the nose or chin. Cold sores are blisters that are filled with liquid and because they are the result of a viral infection, they can easily spread from one person to another. Mouth canker sores do not spread in this manner, as they require a trigger from within the person’s body to make an appearance.

Here are a few symptoms to help you identify if you have mouth canker sores:

  • A tingling sensation in certain parts of the mouth, followed by the appearance of sores
  • Painful sores on the inner sides of the cheeks, on the tongue, or the back part of the mouth
  • Round mouth sores that appear grey or white in color and often have a red colored border
  • Sores accompanied by high fever, tiredness, and swollen lymph nodes

Mouth canker sores may not have serious medical implications but they can be painful, to the extent where they can impair a person’s ability to eat and speak. While the exact cause of these canker sores is unclear, there is at least some information available about what can trigger them. By avoiding these triggers, it is possible to reduce their incidence and avoid the discomfort that they cause.

Canker Sores Treatment – Some Tips On Removing The Sores

Mouth canker sores treatment is actually a misnomer because there is nothing much that can be done to completely heal the sores.

But there’s still hope – you can successfully reduce the pain and discomfort that the sores cause. When left alone, a canker sore will stop hurting after a few days and gradually disappear. However, it can be quite painful during the initial stages and you could try a few of these remedies to find some relief.

canker sores treatment

Preparing a mouthwash with herbs like sage is effective for canker sores treatment.

Canker Sores Treatment – Remedial Measures You Can Try

Use Ice Over The Sore

Ice has the capacity to numb the sensation of pain and reduce the inflammation, and this is what makes it the first line of treatment in any form of injury. When it comes to canker sores treatment, ice can help reduce the pain, although temporarily.

Place an ice cube within your mouth, in contact with the sore, for pain relief. If this is not comfortable, try rinsing your mouth with water that is ice-cold instead.

Use Over-The-Counter (OTC) Products

Check if your local pharmacist has any OTC products that can help you overcome the pain of canker sores. But do this once you’ve consulted your physician, so that you choose the right products for quick recovery.

Some antiseptic creams, mouthwashes, or lozenges that contain antibacterial compounds or a mild local anesthetic like Xylocaine or Benzocaine may help reduce the pain and prevent the sore from getting infected further.

Prepare Your Own Mouth Rinse

Certain herbs such as sage and aloe have curative properties that help with canker sores treatment. Wash a few leaves of the aloe plant and draw out the juice from the inner, succulent part of the leaf. Apply this juice very gently on the canker sore using a cotton swab three to four times in a day and you will find some relief.

Crush sage leaves and apply the powder or the paste directly over the sore. You can also keep sage leaves in boiling water for 15 minutes and use this liquid as a mouth rinse a few times during the day.

Another option would be to prepare a mouth rinse with a teaspoon each of baking soda and table salt combined, and 2 ounces of hydrogen peroxide.

Use A Home Remedy

Most homes have Milk of Magnesia (serves as an antacid) and the cough syrup Benadryl. Mix these in equal quantities and using a small piece of cotton, apply the mixture on each sore. The ingredients present in the antacid will help in keeping the sores wet and this reduces the discomfort caused by their drying out. The Benadryl also helps numb the sensation of pain. However, it is vital that you do not allow the liquid to drain down into the throat, because this could numb the reflexes of the windpipe.

What If These Canker Sores Treatment Options Don’t Work?

Despite these measures for canker sores treatment, if you don’t find any relief or only find the sores persisting beyond a week with no reduction in their intensity, it is time to see a dentist. Sometimes, a person may have a lesion in the mouth that looks like a canker sore but does not hurt, but this could be indicative of some other serious problem such as oral cancer.

Regardless of whether your sores hurt or not, if they persist beyond a few days, it is best to consult a qualified health professional who can clarify the cause of the sores and prescribe the right drugs for canker sores treatment.

How To Prevent Canker Sores – A Checklist For Good Health

Canker sores are ulcers that are usually formed within the mouth. During activities such as brushing teeth, eating, or speaking, when the sore comes in contact with your objects like the tongue or the brush, you are bound to experience a sharp, agonizing pain. While no one knows for sure how these sores form, there is some information available about the probable triggers that cause them. Understanding these triggers is important to know how to prevent canker sores from recurring time and again.

how to prevent canker sores

Learn how to prevent canker sores with a few simple measures.

How To Prevent Canker Sores – Foods To Stay Away From

Certain foods are known to lead to the development of canker sores because of their contents – too much acid, spice, or repeated friction against the inner surfaces of the mouth. For example, vegetables such as tomatoes, and fruits such as oranges, limes, strawberries, and pineapples are high in acidic content. For this reason, people with a tendency to get canker sores should avoid consuming such foods as far as possible.

How To Prevent Canker Sores – Some Simple Tips

  • Follow A Healthy Diet: Deficiency of vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B-12, and minerals such as iron, zinc, and selenium has been linked to mouth canker sores. Eating healthy, balanced meals that contain sufficient amounts of minerals and vitamins can help keep canker sores at bay.
  • Take Good Care Of Your Teeth: Food debris trapped between the teeth may also trigger mouth canker sores, so it is vital that you brush and floss regularly. The effectiveness of your dental care regimen also depends upon the type of toothbrush and toothpaste you use. A toothbrush with hard bristles can brush against the gums and the inner surfaces of the lips or the palate, causing injury that triggers mouth canker sores. Similarly, toothpastes or mouthwashes that contain a certain compound (sodium lauryl sulfate) with foaming properties have been known to increase the probability of mouth canker sores, as this compound causes the oral surfaces to dry out and makes them more susceptible to injury and irritation.
  • Cut Down On Chewing Gum: If you chew gum often, you may develop canker sores because the gum causes irritation to the surfaces of the oral cavity. If you cut down on the amount of gum you chew, you are likely to see fewer and less severe episodes of oral canker sores.
  • Eat Unhurriedly: Occasionally you may develop canker sores when you hurriedly bite down hard on your tongue, lips, or cheeks instead of the food. The best way to avoid this is to ensure that you set aside sufficient time to eat in a relaxed frame of mind.
  • Monitor Your Intake Of Prescription Drugs: Observe if certain drugs you take set off the occurrence of sores. Chemotherapy drugs, beta blockers taken for high blood pressure, and prescription painkillers belonging to the class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are all known to increase the incidence of canker sores. Consult your doctor for useful alternatives.
  • Avoid Other Triggers: In some people, canker sores may be triggered by a food allergy. If you consume something you are allergic to, it could lead to these painful ulcers. Maintain a food diary to find out if your mouth sores are linked to eating particular foods, and once you find a connection, avoid those diligently.

These measures can largely reduce the chances of suffering from oral canker sores. However, if you find that your sores keep recurring, or appear to spread from one part of the mouth to another, or last for a long time, a dentist or a physician can tell you how to prevent canker sores by diagnosing their underlying cause.