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Canker Sores

What are canker sores?

Canker sores, or aphthous ulcer, are small, shallow lesions that occur on the soft tissues in the mouth or at the base of the gums. A canker sore starts as a white or yellowish mouth ulcer surrounded by a red border. These sores can occur on the tongue, gums, roof of the mouth, or inside the lips. They're not contagious, however, they can be painful and cause discomfort when eating and talking.

There are often two types of canker sores:

  • Simple canker sores: appears about three to fur times and year and lasts for about a week.

  • Complex canker sores: not very common, but appears more frequently and lasts longer for people who develop them.

What causes canker sores?

The exact cause is unknown. Previously, it was thought that these mouth sores were related to the herpes virus or sexually transmitted diseases, however that has long been disproven. Studies have shown that the following factors seem to influence the occurrence of canker sores:

  • Stress

  • Acidic amd spicy foods

  • Lack of vitamin B12, minerals such as iron, zinc, and folic acid

  • Injuries to the inside of the mouth including: aggressive brushing, trauma

  • Irritation from not well fitted dental appliances such as braces or dentures

Can I prevent canker sores?

There is no exact way to prevent the prevalence of canker sores. There are practices you can implement to reduce your risk for canker sores, these include:

  • Refrain and reduce intake of acidic and spicy foods

  • Consult your healthcare provider regarding any nutritional deficiences

  • Practice good oral hygiene, floss and brush twice a day with a soft-bristled tooth brush

If you develop a canker sore, there are several over the counter medicines and ointments to relieve the pain and discomfort. If you have dental appliances that are irritating the inside of your mouth, ask your dentist about orthodontic wax.


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