A canker sore is basically a mouth ulcer that is open and painful. It is the most common type of mouth ulcer that is usually present on the inside of the lip or cheek and usually white or yellowish in color and surrounded by inflamed soft tissue.
The sore can be a simple canker or a complex canker. With a simple canker sore, it reemerges about 3-4 times in a year. This is common in individuals between the ages of 10 and 20. As for a complex canker sore, it is not quite common and usually develops in individuals who previously experienced one. Both types of canker sores are not contagious and usually heal on their own within 1-3 weeks, although the pain normally subsides between 7-10 days.
It is best to contact your dentist or doctor if large sores develop or symptoms such as severe pain, diarrhea, high fever, headache and rash are experienced. If the individual is unable to drink or the canker core has not healed after three weeks, it is best to seek medical care.
Recognizing a canker sore
- Small-sized white or yellow oval-shaped ulcer
- Painful reddish area in the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes
Causes and risk factors
The risk for developing canker sores increases if there is a family history. Women are more prone to canker sores than men. As for the causes, they tend to vary and in some cases, it cannot be determined. The common causes include:
- Viral infection
- Hormonal changes
- Food allergies
- Mouth injury
- Menstrual cycle
- Immune system problems
- Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
How canker sores are diagnosed
The doctor usually diagnoses a canker sore by simply inspecting it. If the doctor thinks that a virus, vitamin or mineral deficiency or hormonal disorder might be the cause of the problem, blood tests or a biopsy is usually performed.
Treating canker sores
Take note that canker sores generally heal without any intervention. If you want to hasten the healing, you have to avoid eating peppery foods and brush your teeth habitually in order to prevent the area from infection. Understandably, pain can be severe at times but there are ways in order to minimize the discomfort.
- Instruct the individual to gargle using a mouthwash or salt water. Even though it will feel intense at first, it will help minimize the pain.
- Combine equal amounts of water and hydrogen peroxide and apply it to the canker sore using a cotton swab. This should be applied three times in a day.
- Apply milk of magnesia on the canker sore three times a day.
- The doctor or dentist can recommend an antimicrobial mouth rinse, an antibiotic or a corticosteroid ointment.
How to prevent canker sores
Canker sores can be prevented by avoiding foods that have caused the previous outbreak. It usually includes spicy, acidic and salty foods. Additionally, avoid foods that cause allergy symptoms such as swollen tongue, itchy mouth or hives.