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The Basics of Canker Sores

Canker sores are painful small, round or oval sores that appear in the mouth. They are one of the most common oral conditions with more than half of all people experiencing them. Canker sores may appear on any soft tissue such as gums, tongue, cheeks, or inside the lips.

Often this condition is recurrent and sores will heal, only to recur after a period of time. Typically, canker sores heal within one week, but some people may experience a more severe problem including clustered sores or longer healing times. Sores generally heal without treatment and are not transmissible to others.

The cause of canker sores is currently unknown, but are considered to be an immune system disorder andmay be related to stress, hormones, or genetics. However, these sores may also appear as an allergic reaction to ingredients in food, mouthwashes or toothpaste. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a chemical found in many toothpastes and mouthwashes that has been linked to canker sores and it may help to alleviate the problem by switching to products without this additive.

Certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies such as iron, B-12, and folic acid may also contribute to canker sores. A doctor can determine this through simple testing. Ensuring you are eating a nutritious diet and drinking plenty of water, along with limiting spicy or acidic foods may also help.

Canker sores may also be an indication of another health condition such as a gastrointestinal disorder likeCrohn’s disease. If other symptoms are present, it may be a good idea to visit a doctor. By considering common factors in when they appear including changes in mouthwash or toothpaste brands or the consumption of certain foods, it may be possible to identify the trigger and eliminate it.

Finally, remember that the tissues of your mouth can be injured by aggressive toothbrushing, biting the lips or inside of the cheek while eating or sleeping or other injuries. These injuries may also lead to the formation of canker sores. Always treat these tissues gently and use a soft toothbrush.

Although there is no known cure for canker sores, medications are available to help with pain and to shorten healing time. Swishing with a teaspoon of salt or baking soda dissolved in a half cup of warm water may help disinfect and speed healing in the area. However, a dentist should be consulted if ulcers are chronically present, recur multiple times each month, for therapeutic advice, or for any concerns about your oral health.

If you suffer from canker sores and would like more information, Dr. Heidi Finkelstein and her caring staff at My Plantation Dentist can help. To schedule your appointment, please contact us today at 954-584-1030.

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