Canker sores are believed to have affected about 20% (one in five) of the population.
Sometimes mixed up with cold sores, canker sores (also known as aphthous ulcers) manifest only on the inside of the mouth and are not contagious.
Canker sores can usually be recognized by their oval shape with a red border, and usually a gray, white or yellow center. Canker sores can be very painful, but most will recover by themselves in a few days to a couple of weeks.
What causes canker sores?
Though no one is 100% sure what causes canker sores, heredity is believed to be a factor. Women are affected almost at double the rate of men by these sores and they tend to afflict individuals who are ten to twenty years old. Connections have been discovered between stress and canker sores, and they frequently occur at the location of mouth injuries. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), an ingredient found in toothpaste, has been found to have links to canker sores as well. And, lastly, canker sores may be an indicator of problems of the immune system.
Canker sores come in three varieties. While the majority of occurrences are minor canker sores, there are also major and herpetiform canker sores. You can read more about these other types on the Mayo Clinic website.
Treating canker sores
If are suffering from a minor canker sore, no medical treatment is typically needed. Still, there are a few actions you can take to reduce additional pain.
- Refrain from eating foods that could be hard or scratchy, as well as spicy foods. These will aggravate the wound.
- Don't use your toothbrush on the canker sore, and use a toothpaste that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
Ways to keep from getting a canker sore
- Keep away from types of foods that irritate your mouth.
- Make sure to have proper nutrition and are avoiding vitamin deficiency.
- For individuals with braces, orthodontic wax can protect your mouth from cuts.
- Try to reduce your stress.
Make an appointment with Dr. Mills or your doctor if you are suffering from a canker sore that is painful or larger than normal or one that doesn't seem to heal.