Causes of Canker Sores
It is unclear what the exact cause of canker sores is. Stress, injury to the soft tissues of the mouth or certain foods high in acid content are thought to trigger canker sores or prolong healing. There are two types of canker sores, simple and complex.
Simple canker sores:
Most frequently occur in people between the ages of 10-20 years old. They usually occur only a few times a year, are uncomfortable, but only last about a week. They usually appear small and white on the soft tissue (mucosal lining) in the mouth. They are usually caused from trauma from biting the tongue or cheek or friction from metal braces rubbing against the mouth. They heal on their own and usually do not require any treatment from your dentist in Lincoln, NE.
Complex canker sores:
These are less common. They are usually larger than simple canker sores and appear deeper in the tissue. They often present in clusters and take several weeks to heal. Occasionally patients with complex canker sores experience a fever or swelling in the neck area when they have complex canker sores. Complex canker sores are thought to be caused by serious health problems like vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin B-12 deficiency or a poorly functioning immune system are likely causes. If you think you are experiencing complex canker sores, you should make an appointment with your dentist in Lincoln, NE to evaluate the area.
Here are some common causes of canker sores:
- Lifestyle stress (work, school, family)
- Eating a diet high in acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus, pineapple)
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
- Food allergies
- Sensitivity from sodium lauryl sulfate from toothpastes. Some patients need to avoid this ingredient due to allergies or sensitivities.
- For women, hormonal changes from medication, irregular menstrual periods and menopause.
Canker Sores and Your Overall Health:
As mentioned previously, patients who experience chronic canker sores may have an underlying medical problem. Below are the most common medical problems related to chronic complex canker sores:
- Gluten intolerance
- Celiac Disease – a Genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.
- Crohn’s Disease.
- A small percentage of patients may develop severe canker sores which are persistent and rather uncomfortable.
- In infants, canker sores can interfere with eating and require a visit to the pediatrician.
- HIV patients
- Patients undergoing chemotherapy
Home Remedies for Canker Sores
- You can wait for the canker sores to heal on their own, usually this can range from 1-4 weeks depending on whether it is a simple or complex canker sore.
- To help heal the sores faster, you can get a prescription from your dentist in Lincoln, NE for Debacterol, a prescription strength canker sore treatment, prescription mouthrinse or steroid medication.
- Avoid trigger foods-Gluten and Citrus
- Apply healing essential oils to the area with a cotton swab
- Apply Aloe Vera gel to the wound
- Rinse with milk of magnesia and liquid antihistamine for topical relief.
- Dab the ulcer with a cotton swab soaked in one part hydrogen peroxide and one part water
Lifestyle Changes that can dramatically decrease overall Inflammation and help to prevent breakouts:
- Managing stress
- Managing anxiety
- An adequate amount of sleep
- Addressing nutritional deficiencies such as: Iron-seafood, peas, spinach.
- Vitamin B12-eggs, cheese, red meat, fish
- Folate-leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, avocado
Canker sores affect up to 20 percent of the population. Evidence shows they are related to disturbances in the immune system, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage. The microscopic appearance of an ulcer can indicate some degree of autoimmunity could be involved.
Due to the immune system in the mouth being connected with the rest of the body, especially the digestive tract; recurrent outbreaks may be a symptom of an increased inflammatory burden.
Commonly Asked Questions
How do you get canker sores?
Irritation or trauma to the area, food allergies, stress, anxiety, vitamin B-12 deficiency, poor diet and poor overall health can all trigger canker sores.
Are canker sores contagious?
Canker sores are not contagious. Sometimes patients confuse canker sores and cold sores. Cold sores are contagious and are caused by a virus.
How long do canker sores last?
Simple canker sores usually heal within a week or two while complex canker sores may take several weeks to completely heal without treatment. If your canker sore has not healed after two weeks, you should call your dentist in Lincoln, NE to evaluate the area.
Why do I keep getting canker sores?
Recurrent canker sores or canker sores that do not heal promptly could be due to an underlying systemic condition such as food sensitivities (gluten or acidic foods) or triggered by stress and anxiety.
What is the difference between a cold sore and a canker sore?
Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Virus Type 1. Cold sores are contagious and spread from person to person via saliva or direct contact with the skin. Cold sores cause a blistering lesion to form on the mouth and lips. Other names for cold sores are fever blisters or oral herpes. Canker sores are usually caused from irritation, stress, vitamin deficiency or some other underlying medical condition. If you frequently get either type of lesion, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor or dentist in Lincoln, NE to make sure you do not have underlying medical or dental problems.
What does a canker sore look like?
Canker sores are usually a round or oval shaped ulceration that is white in the center and has a red halo. They are generally found on the mucosal lining of the mouth (around lips and cheeks or under the tongue. If your canker sores are not healing normally after two weeks, you should call your dentist in Lincoln, NE to check the area.
Wishing your health and happiness,
Dr. Sydney Joyce