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Canker Sores: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment | Hawaii Family Dental

What are Canker Sores?

Canker sores are small, shallow, white or yellow center lesions with a red border that develop on the soft tissues in the mouth or at the base of the gums.

Also known as aphthous stomatitis, canker sores can be classified into three categories:

  • Minor ulcers which are less than one centimeter and heals within two weeks without leaving scars
  • Major ulcers or Sutton’s disease are almost half-inch in diameter and take a longer time to recover. These type of ulcers may also leave scars.
  • Herpetiform ulcers are clusters of dozens of smaller ulcers whose occurrence is rare.

What Causes Canker Sores?

The primary cause of canker sores remain unknown, but some factors have been attributed to their occurrence including:

  • An injury to the inside of the mouth from accidentally biting the tongue or cheek, from dental work, or overzealous teeth cleaning
  • Overeating spicy or acidic foods
  • Hormonal changes
  • Food allergies
  • Autoimmune conditions and viral infections that weaken the immune system and lead to the lack of essential body nutrients
  • Genes may also be a contributor as family history increases the likelihood of having severe sores, according to the National Library of Medicine.
  • Canker sores are also prevalent during high-anxiety moments and due to stress
  • Toothpaste and mouthwashes containing sodium lauryl sulfate, an anionic detergent, and surfactant found in personal care products like soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste

What are the Symptoms of Canker Sores?

They usually begin with a tingling sensation in an area of inflammation before an ulcer appears which takes two to three days to form completely. They are painful and uncomfortable and can interfere with speech and eating.

In severe cases of canker sores, fever, physical sluggishness, and swollen lymph nodes may be experienced.

How long do Canker Sores last?

People usually suffer two to six ulcers per episode which can last for weeks or months, depending on the category.

Are Canker Sores Similar to Cold Sores?

Unlike cold sores, caused by Herpes Simplex Virus 1, which are contagious, canker sores are benign and non-contagious.

Canker sores always form inside the mouth, while cold sores tend to appear on or around the lips and occasionally affect the tongue, gums and the hard and soft palate.

What are the Treatments for Canker Sores?

Gargling with mouthwash or salt water may also help in reducing the pain, or try mixing hydrogen peroxide with water and apply it on the infected area with a cotton swab.

Also, it is essential to pay your dentist a visit, so he or she can prescribe pain medications or suggest remedies for your canker sore.

Home Remedies

  • Onion. Place sliced onions directly on the canker sores and allow them to sit for fifteen minutes. Afterward, rinse your mouth with cold water. Although uncomfortable, onions are helpful in relieving pain and healing sores.
  • Baking Soda and Salt. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda and two teaspoons of salt with a glass of warm water. Use it to rinse your mouth at least two to three times a day, until the canker sores go away. Alternatively, make a paste by combining baking soda with a small amount of water, and apply it to the affected areas.
  • Tea Tree Oil. Mix three to five drops of tea tree oil with a quarter cup of warm water. Soak the cotton in the mixture and hold it against the affected areas. Do this three to four times a day.
  • Plum Juice. Rinse your mouth with plum juice, or soak a cotton ball in the mixture and hold it against the affected area for 20 minutes. Do this twice or thrice a day.
  • Coriander Leaves. Boil two tablespoon of coriander leaves in one glass of water. After boiling, strain and allow the liquid to cool until it becomes tepid. Use this to rinse your mouth at least three times a day.
  • Black Tea. After dipping the black tea bag in warm water, take it out and put it on the affected areas, gently pressing it to release the tea water. Do this for ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Grapefruit. Mix five to six drops of grapefruit in water and use it to rinse your mouth at least two times a day.
  • Aloe Vera Juice. Rinse the mouth with aloe vera juice at least three or four times daily to relieve the pain.

How can I prevent Canker Sores?

Unfortunately, canker sores may not be preventable since their cause is unknown. Still, their frequency may be reduced by avoiding foods that cause mouth irritation or allergies.

Moreover, protect your mouth from injury by not subjecting oneself to situations that may cause harm or danger to the body. If you are engaging in contact sports or any activities that increase the probability of sustaining mouth injuries, wear mouth guards as safety measures.

Practicing good oral hygiene is also imperative in preventing the occurrence of canker sores.

If you have a canker sore, be sure to take proper care of your oral health to avoid infecting the area with a canker sore.

Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.


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