Home Canker Sores - Causes Symptoms and Treatment
Canker sores are also called aphthous (af-thus) ulcers. They are sores inside the mouth. You may have canker sores on the inside of your lips and cheeks, or on your gums or tongue. It is common to have more than one. They are painful but are not harmful. Usually, canker sores heal in 2 weeks. You may get them more than once.
Causes of Canker Sores
Doctors don't know exactly what causes canker sores. They may be hereditary, but doctors have not figured out exactly how people inherit the tendency to get them. Researchers think they may be an overreaction to the Streptococcus bacteria, because the bacteria are often found in the canker sore. People with canker sores often have small injuries from dental injections and toothbrushes in the lining of the mouth. Allergies, such as hay fever, are also associated with an increased risk for canker sores.
Canker sores often occur near the time of a menstrual period. They may also be brought on by stress - for example, many students get them during exams. Other possible causes include lack of cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12), folic acid, or iron. Certain foods may be triggers for canker sores or act as nutrients for the Streptococcus bacteria.
Canker Sore Symptoms
Canker sores occur in several forms. They can involve any area of the mouth except for the gums, lips, and hard palate.
Minor canker sores (which account for the majority of aphthous ulcers) are oval and less than 10 mm (1/3 inch) across. Most are 2-3 mm with a white center. They are painful but clear up within three to 14 days without scarring. It is unusual for them to become infected.
Major canker sores consist of deep ulcers measuring greater than 1 cm (1/3 inch). These ulcers, which are very painful, have irregular margins and often last for three to six weeks. They tend to heal with extensive scarring.
If you feel a burning or tingling sensation inside your mouth, canker sore might appear afterwards. It will start with a small whitish sore somewhat like a wound with red edges around it. Either it will appear under your tongue, inside your cheeks or on your tongue, canker sore starts with the same sensation and appearance. Other symptoms like swelling of lymph nodes, fever and listlessness could also be experienced though not related to canker sore.
Treatment of Canker Sores
Nutritional supplements. Your doctor is likely to prescribe a nutritional supplement if you're low in important nutrients, such as folate (folic acid), vitamins B-6, B-12 and zinc.
Pain from a canker sore generally lessens in a few days and the sores usually heal without treatment in about a week or two.
Avoid hot and spicy foods and foods with sharp crunchy edges, such as nacho chips, which can poke into the canker sore.
Topical pastes. Over-the-counter and prescription pastes such as Orabase, triamcinolone acetonide (Kenalog in Orabase), amlexanox (Aphthasol) and fluocinonide (Lidex) can help relieve pain and speed healing if applied to individual lesions as soon as they appear.
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