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If you have frequent, tiny but painful sores in your mouth, you are not alone. This is called a canker sore, or “aphthous ulcer”. Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not contagious, they show up inside the mouth (lips, cheeks, tongue, gums and palate), and disappear within a few days or weeks. They appear pale white or yellow and surrounded by a red outer ring. They may show up as a single sore or a group. Women seem to be more susceptible to canker sores than men, and they often run in families. Scientists don’t really know what causes these sores, although a combination of factors is thought to contribute to their outbreak.

You may have warning before they appear in the form of a burning or tingling. It takes 2-3 days for them to form and they will hurt for 3-10 days and usually go away after a couple of weeks. No one knows exactly why they show up, but researchers think it is combination of factors, even in the same person.

Canker Sore May Be Caused By:

–Emotional stress and hormonal changes.
–Allergic reaction to certain bacteria in the mouth.
–A compromised immune system (cold or flu, HIV/AIDS).
–Using toothpastes or mouthwashes with sodium lauryl sulfate.
–A vitamin or mineral deficiency (vitamin B-12, folate, iron, zinc).
–Minor injury to your mouth (dental work, brushing too hard, biting the cheek).
–Food sensitivities (chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese, spicy or acidic foods).

Canker sores aren’t preventable per se, but you can treat the symptoms. To help with the pain, eat plain, bland, non-spicy foods. Rinse your mouth with warm water and use over-the-counter creams or ointments to soothe the sores. If your canker sore is severe, you may need to be prescribed a mouth rinse with steroid dexamethasone. Large canker sores can also be treated with steroid creams.

See your dentist if the canker sores are large, if you are getting more sores than you used to (and more often), and if you are also experiencing other symptoms like rashes, fever, diarrhea or joint pain. If you are low on vitamins and minerals, you may be prescribed vitamin B-6, B-12, folate, iron, or zinc.

Canker sores, while unpleasant, can be treated and soothed. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We can be reached at 505.292.6414 today!