Canker Sores- What They Are & Where They Come From

We’ve all experienced these pesky spots — canker sores plague most mouths from time to time, and they’re as annoying as they are ugly. These pesky ulcers can last for a few weeks, depending on severity. Typically, you’ll get them three to four times a year and they’ll last only about a week.

The exact cause of canker sores is unknown — it’s been found that stress, injury, and certain acidic foods may cause or worsen sores, but the actual direct cause has yet to be figured out. Some people experience canker sores often, others rarely get them. Complex canker sores are less common and tend to occur in people who get them often — they can be a sign of a weak immune system, nutritional deficiencies or gastrointestinal tract problems.

The easiest way to tell if you have a canker sore is to look at it — typically they’ll be white spots in the mouth with a red edge, located on the tongue, soft palate or inside of your cheeks. They’re usually painful to touch and make it painful to eat certain acidic foods, but severe complex canker sores can also cause swollen lymph nodes, fever or lethargy.

For complex canker sores, dentists can prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse, a corticosteroid ointment or a prescription solution to reduce pain.

For simple canker sores, there are many home remedies to quicken healing time and reduce pain and irritation. There are many over-the-counter mouthwashes and topical solutions, but you can also find helpful pain relievers in your kitchen. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which is known to desensitize nerves that cause pain. Applying a small dab to your sore can quickly reduce pain, as long as you aren’t too sensitive to spicy tastes. Applying ice to the affected area can also temporarily relieve irritation, as well as refraining from smoking or drinking alcohol while the sore is present — these will only intensify pain.

If you have a canker sore that lasts more than 2-3 weeks, seeing a dentist may be necessary. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist about care for your canker sore, and be sure to keep up a healthy lifestyle to prevent sores in the future.

At Greenspoint Dental, we offer a wide variety of dental services, including dental checkups and regular teeth cleaning, as well as cosmetic dentistry. If you’re in need of dental care, contact us today to make an appointment or schedule a consultation.