Canker Sores: Causes and Treatment
Canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers or aphthous stomatitis, are small, painful ulcers that develop in your mouth, on your tongue, or at the base of your gums. The lesions usually appear white, gray, or yellow, with a red border. They don’t occur on the surface of your lips, and aren’t contagious.
Canker Sore Causes
The causes of canker sores are not well understood, though there are multiple factors that may cause the sores to appear, including:
- Injury to the mouth due to improper dental practices, ill-fitting braces or dentures, or sport injury.
- Consumption of acidic foods.
- Food sensitivities or allergies.
- Diets low in vitamins B12, iron, zinc, or folate (folic acid).
- Toothpaste containing Sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste brands.
- Emotional stress
- Gastrointestinal tract diseases and autoimmune diseases
Canker Sore Treatment
Canker sores usually heal without any treatment in about one to two weeks, and the pain generally lessens in a few days. However, if your sores are large and the pain persists, you might want to see your dentist or general physician who may prescribe a certain canker sore medicine over the counter to reduce the pain and irritation and prevent infection. The best treatment for canker sores would be:
- Antimicrobacterial mouth rinse
- Topical medications such as lidocaine (an anesthetic) and benzocaine (Oragel), which helps to relieve the pain and discomfort.
- Steroid medications, which helps to decrease inflammation and requires a prescription.
- Topical antibiotics to help prevent bacterial infection.
- Corticosteroid ointment
- Canker sore toothpaste, which doesn’t contain Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).
Aside from using canker sores medicine, you can also speed up the healing of your canker sores by avoiding acidic and spicy foods, brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush, managing your stress, and increasing your vitamin intake.
To treat canker sores in children, you can work on lifestyle changes with the ones mentioned earlier. But if your child is unable to eat or drink due to the pain, it’s time to bring them to the pediatrician.