Canker sores are small painful wounds in the mouth and on soft tissues. These ulcers are usually found inside your mouth. The wounds can be on or under the tongue, the inner parts of cheeks or lips, or on the gums. The wounds can resolve on their own or appear again. You will better understand the causes, symptoms, and home or office treatments of canker sores in the following passages.
What are the different types of canker sores?
Canker sores are categorized into 2 types:
- Minor: The minor sores appear 3 to 4 times a year and occur mainly in individuals from 10 to 20 years old. The wounds last one week.
- Complex: Complex ulcers are larger in size and painful but these are less common. These ulcers can last one month and the spot of recovered wounds may be visible. Chronic diseases like a weak immune system, Crohn’s disease, or vitamin deficiency can play a major role in causing them.
Causes of canker sores
Generally, it is not so clear to detect the exact cause of canker sores. There can be several factors that can contribute to the outbreak of canker sores including:
1. Lack of vitamins
Most problems in the outer layers of the skin or inside the mouth can be related to a lack of enough vitamins. If there is any sign of ulcers, these deficiencies can be due to a lack of B-12 vitamin.
Children need this vitamin to provide their body with more minerals and vitamins to grow and the lack of this vitamin can occur mostly in children.
2. Malnutrition (lower or no intake of nutrients)
It is pointed out in many studies that lack of folic acid, zinc, or iron in the human body can trigger canker sores. Calcium is another important substance that we should not forget. Calcium deficiency can have worsening effects on the body and it can contribute to the appearance of canker sores. Having a healthy diet and foods are the best preventive way.
3. Trauma or any other damages
Any harmful damages even slight ones can cause ulcers in the mouth.
- Injuries due to aggressive brushing habits.
- Some people may suffer from damage caused by dental appliances like orthodontic braces.
- Loss of the outer layers of the mouth as a result of some types of mouthwashes with high levels of attrition or some foods.
- Not cleaning dentures and other dental devices that are worn for long periods in the mouth.
4. Fruits and vegetables
Some fruits can have unpredictable results in terms of harmful effects like allergic reactions or causing ulcers in the mouth.
Strawberries, citrus fruits, pineapples, figs, tomatoes, and apples are some fruits that may increase sensitivity or allergic reactions.
5. Weak immune system
People with weak immune systems are prone to wounds in the mouth. Finding this connection is not easy, but the fact that these wounds cannot be prevented and regenerated quickly reveals some weak signs of the immune system and a responsible factor.
In addition, there is some evidence that gastrointestinal disorders and some other diseases are also responsible for the worsening effects of ulcers.
What are the symptoms of canker sores?
- It burns during the first and second days. It is similar to blisters. The pain of ulcers increases and after 4 to 7 days this pain may still remain.
- Almost always, these wounds appear on the soft tissues in the interior parts of lips, cheeks, tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate, and throat. Wounds are shallow with a round oval shape and yellowish and brown color and reddish in its surrounding area.
- These wounds are small and appear in 2 or 3 forms with 1 cm in diameter
- The wounds disappear after 10 days with no spots behind but this is not true of larger wounds with a 3 cm diameter. These wounds recover in weeks and leave spots behind.
- People with severe ulcers may experience fever and lymph node inflammation.
Treatment of canker sores
The good news is relieving the pain caused by ulcers in the mouth is possible through over-the-counter or prescribed medicine and home treatment can be helpful to reduce the pain.
Simply, small wounds recover without any interference. In other cases, the goal is to decrease the symptoms and take preventive measures. There are no certain treatments. For example, the reduction of inflammation or prevention of secondary symptoms are basic issues in the treatment process. Treating canker sores can include the following ways:
- Steroid mouthwashes
- Topical desensitizing agents
- Disinfecting or washing creams
- Food supplements
Severe forms of wounds and medical treatments
In severe forms and constant occurrence of canker sores, a medical analysis should be carried out by either the dentist or a physician. To relieve the pain, after detailed examinations, the treatments below can be provided:
- Whether there is a bacterial infection or not, antibiotics might be prescribed to reduce the inflammation or irritation of tissues.
- Topical painkillers also reduce the pain and irritation of tissues.
- Often, oversensitivity of the immune system may cause these wounds. Therefore, the prescription of drugs decreases the defensive responses of the immune system.
- In some other severe forms of these wounds, the dentist agrees that systematic medical usage is recommended rather than topical drug usage.
The following at-home treatments can be practiced 3 to 4 times a day:
- Rinse your mouth with warm water, salt, or alcohol-free mouthwashes.
- Dilute hydrogen peroxide in water and swish it in your mouth.
- Apply a small amount of magnesium hydroxide to the wound
- If you feel any pain, try over-the-counter painkillers
When to visit the doctor or dentist?
Common canker sores can be recovered without any in-office treatments. As we mentioned, there are plenty of ways to prevent the upcoming symptoms even in severe and frequent wounds.
If there is no achievement in at-home treatments, you need to visit your dentist:
- Recovery time is longer than 2 weeks
- Worsening effects of at-home treatments
- Frequent occurrence of more than 2 or 3 times in a year
- If there are other symptoms like fever, diarrhea, headache, and skin rashes.
- If you think the wound can be a sign of another disease.
How to prevent canker sores?
Most of the time, finding the reasons behind some wounds is difficult. Unless you know what causes these wounds, the treatment can’t be carried out. If we find some evidence about the wounds and their causes, prevention will be planned
- Previously, we used to eat in a way that had one of the main harmful effects on developing wounds in our mouth. Now, with slow chewing habits and not raising our speaking tones, smooth brushing, and these kinds of simple activities, we can contribute to having healthier mouth and teeth.
- Foods with a lot of spices, acidity, and hard and harsh surface can be damaging to your oral health. Avoid drinking or eating hot and cold foods and drinks when having wounds in your mouth.
- Excessive alcohol drinking habits and heavy smoking should be stopped.
- Foods containing minerals like iron, zinc, B-12 vitamin, and folic acid should be included in your dietary habits.