Canker sores are small painful wounds in the mouth and on soft tissues. These ulcers are usually found on the surface. The wounds can be on or under the tongue, the interior parts of cheeks or lips or on the gums or other soft tissues. Skin wounds can regenerate by itself 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 kinds of canker sores?
These wound are categorized in 2 kinds:
- Simple wounds: these wounds appear 3 to4 times in a year and occur in individuals from 10 to20 years old. The wounds last one week.
- Complex wounds: complex ulcers are larger in size and painful but these are less common wounds. These wounds last for one month and the spot of recovered wounds may be visible. The chronic diseases like weak immune system, crohn’s disease or vitamin deficiency can play a major role in causing these wounds.
Causes of canker sores
Usually, there are 5 symptoms to blame in paving the way for canker sores. The more of these signs you see, the greater possibility for having canker sores.
Lack of vitamins
Most problems of outer layers of skin or inside the mouth can be related to lack of enough vitamins. If there is any sign of ulcers, these deficiencies can be 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.
Malnutrition (lower or no intake of nutrients)
It is pointed out in many studies that lack of folic acid, zinc or iron in human body can trigger canker sores. Calcium is another important substance which we should not forget. Calcium deficiency can have worsening effect on these wounds and healthy diets and foods are the best preventive techniques.
Trauma or any other damages
Any harmful damages even slight ones can cause ulcers in the mouth.
- Injuries due to incorrect brushing habits.
- Some people may suffer from damages caused by dental appliances like orthodontic braces.
- Loss of the outer layers of mouth as a result of some types of mouthwashes with high levels of attrition or some foods.
- Dentures in people who have lost their teeth can be responsible for problems like canker sores.
- Fruits and vegetables
Some fruits can have unpredictable results in terms of harmful effects that these fruits cause in ulcers in the mouth.
Strawberries, citrus fruits, pineapples, figs, tomatoes and apples are some fruits to avoid if you have wounds in your mouth.
Weak immune system
People with weak immune system 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 immune system and a responsible factor.
In addition, there is some evidence that gastrointestinal disorders and some other diseases are also responsible in worsening effects on ulcers.
What are the symptoms of canker sores?
- It burns during the first and second day. It is similar to blisters but don’t make that imagination. The pain of ulcers increases and after 4 to 7 days this pain may still remains
- Almost always, these wounds appear on the soft tissues in the interior parts of lips, cheeks, tongue, floor of the mouth, soft palate and throat. Wounds are shallow with 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 3 cm diameter. These wounds recover in weeks and leave spots behind.
- People with severe ulcers may experience fever and lymph nodes 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 to take preventive measurements. There are no certain treatments. For example, 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, 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 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 immune system may cause these wounds. Therefore, prescription of drugs to decrease the defensive responses of immune system like cortone is helpful.
- In some other severe forms of these wounds, if the dentist agrees on 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 small amount of magnesium hydroxide on 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 the 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 the 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, 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.