What Is Canker Sores In Mouth
These small shallow ulcers are painful and annoying. You never know when they might attack you and make your life miserable: no more eating normal food, no more talking, no more kissing! But do not panic and think that your life is over – the lion is not so fierce as painted! Let’s talk about and discover what canker sores are, what causes them, and how can they be treated and prevented!
What are Canker Sores?
Canker sores are small red or white ulcers in your mouth. They might appear on the inside of your lips, cheeks, on your gums or even under your tongue. There might be one canker sore or many of them at a time. They might be temporary or frequent. Even though canker sores might affect the entire family, they are not contagious, that is why kissing is not fatal in this case.
Types of Canker Sores
There are two main types of canker sores:
Simple canker sores may form three or four times a year and once they appear, they last for about a week. They most commonly affect children and adults aged 10-20 years old.
Complex canker sores are not so common as they usually only occur in people who have had previous attacks of canker sores.
What are the Symptoms of Canker Sores?
You should become concerned if you notice a painful red spot with white coating on it, an ulcer or ulcers in your mouth (on your tongue, gums, or inside your cheeks), or if you feel your gums burning or tightening up 24 hours before the actual ulcers appears. In this case, you have probably developed a minor case of canker sores.
In severe cases of canker sore, you might experience fever, muscles fatigue, and/or swelling problems in the mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms, or have any concerns, visit your dentist as soon as possible.
What Causes Canker Sores?
Nobody knows the true cause of canker sores. Sometimes it is bacteria, viruses or fungi, but most often it is an underlying health condition, such as an impaired immune system, or a deficiency in zinc, iron, folic acid, and vitamin B-12, or some type of gastrointestinal tract disease.
This is why it is worth visiting your dentist to examine any canker sore which lasts longer than 7-10 days. Stress, injuries or food allergies might increase the likelihood of canker sore development. Some women are more prone to them before and during their menstrual cycle, while children and teens are in the high-risk group.
Are Cold Sores Similar to Canker Sores?
While cold and canker sores are often confused to be similar, they are not. Cold sores are also known as herpes simplex type 1 or fever blisters. They are generally groups of painful blisters, filled with fluid, and are usually formed outside the mouth under the nose or chin or around the lips. Cold sores are triggered by a virus and are very contagious. Canker sores are sores you find inside the mouth.
Diagnosis of Canker Sores
While doctors often diagnose canker sores by examining them, they may also order a blood test or a biopsy if it’s a severe case or if they suspect you have a virus, a mineral or vitamin deficiency, immune system problems, or a hormonal disorder. Cancerous lesions may look like canker sores, but they don’t heal with treatment.
While some of the symptoms of oral cancer and canker sores are similar, oral cancer has some unique symptoms such as earache, loose teeth, difficulty swallowing, bleeding from the gums or mouth. So if you experience any of these unique symptoms, immediately consult your doctor to eradicate the possibility of oral cancer.
How are Canker Sores Treated?
Doctors do not usually prescribe medicine for the treatment of canker sores. But you can follow some popular advice to relieve the pain they cause. If the pain is intolerable, take ibuprofen. It is also helpful to rinse your mouth with a mild baking soda, magnesia or salt solution. Apart from that, your dentist may also prescribe an antimicrobial mouthwash.
In some cases, your doctor might also give you a corticosteroid ointment (to relieve the pain while eating), or a special solution (to reduce the pain and irritation). But above all, do not forget to drink enough water, as dehydration hinders your mouth from salivating. And saliva is you body’s natural protection against oral cavity infections.
Canker sores usually heal by themselves over a period of 7-10 days, and in the severe cases 14 days, if there is no further health risks associated with them.
Home Remedies for Canker Sores
There’s an easy home remedy for canker sores where you rinse your mouth with a solution of one cup of warm water with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in it. This will help to provide relief from the pain and also helps with healing. Honey, too, is effective at treating canker sores. You just have to apply a bit of honey to the canker sore, or apply some honey to cotton wool and place it on the sore.
When is it Time to Visit Your Dentist?
You must see your dentist as soon as possible if your canker sores last longer than a week, or if they are become grow bigger (over 10 mm in diameter). The situation is also critical if your canker sores keep spreading, or you have difficulty drinking and eating. Immediately contact a healthcare professional, if you have a fever for more than one day.
Can Canker Sores Be Prevented?
Although doctors have not yet discovered the cure that prevents canker sores from forming, you can follow 12 simple prevention tips for canker sores to reduce their frequency:
- keep your mouth clean;
- brush your teeth with a soft-bristled brush after each meal;
- floss your teeth daily to keep your mouth free of food residue (Do not floss areas that are sore or bleeding!);
- remove your dentures at bedtime, and clean them regularly;
- use a mouthwash after each meal and at bedtime;
- drink 8-12 glasses of waters a day;
- avoid lips cracking by applying a lip balm;
- avoid chewing gum, as it might cause irritation;
- say no to hard, crunchy, and spicy food, especially things like nuts, pretzels and crackers;
- avoid foods and drinks that are too hot;
- avoid acidic foods and juices, especially grape, tomato and orange juice;
- say no to alcohol and tobacco products
Furthermore, do not forget to see your dentist for the check-ups every 6 months. All these tips will help you to prevent canker sores.
All in all, anyone of us might get canker sores, but it is very important to diagnose them in the early stages. And keep in mind that it is always easier to prevent the illness, than cure it, even though it might take some time and effort. So follow our tips to prevent canker sores to always stay healthy and wealthy!