Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are a prevalent condition that affects around 20% of the population. These small, painful, round or oval-shaped lesions develop in the soft tissues of the mouth, including the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks. While they are not contagious, they can be painful and uncomfortable, making it difficult to eat and speak. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes, treatment options, and prevention methods for canker sores.
Causes of Canker Sores:
The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but several factors can contribute to their development. Some of the most common causes of canker sores include:
- Trauma: Any kind of injury to the soft tissues of the mouth, such as biting your cheek or tongue, can cause a canker sore to develop.
- Certain Foods: Acidic and spicy foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and coffee can cause canker sores in some people.
- Hormonal changes: Women may experience canker sores during their menstrual cycle or pregnancy.
- Stress: Emotional stress can weaken the immune system and make it more vulnerable to canker sores.
- Underlying health conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and HIV/AIDS, can increase the risk of developing canker sores.
Treatment for Canker Sores
Most canker sores will heal on their own within 7-10 days without treatment. However, there are several things you can do to ease the pain and speed up the healing process.
- Over-the-counter treatments: There are several over-the-counter treatments available for canker sores, including topical creams, gels, and mouthwashes. These products contain ingredients like benzocaine and hydrogen peroxide that can help to numb the area and reduce inflammation.
- Saltwater rinse: Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can help to soothe the sore and promote healing. To make a saltwater rinse, dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swish it around in your mouth for 30-60 seconds.
- Avoid certain foods: If certain foods are causing your canker sores, try to avoid them until the sore has healed. This may include acidic and spicy foods, as well as nuts and chips.
- Medications: If your canker sores are severe or do not go away on their own, your doctor may prescribe a medication to help manage the pain and promote healing. This may include a corticosteroid or a prescription mouthwash.
- Laser Therapy: This is perhaps the most effective way to treat these annoying mouth ulcers that most people are not aware of.
Laser therapy is a very simple, comfortable, inexpensive and effective therapy available to really speed up the healing of these canker sores and make you immediately much more comfortable. The wavelength of this diode laser promotes faster cellular healing through gentle biostimulation and soothes the sensitive nerve endings to bring about profound and immediate relief. Usually just one treatment, comprised of 3-4 two-minute rounds of laser therapy, is enough to remedy the discomfort and expedite healing.
Most dentists do not currently offer this treatment, so do your research. At our office we have been performing Biomimetic dentistry (the most minimally invasive form of dentistry available) and Preventative dental treatments, such as this fast-acting, non-invasive laser treatment to hundreds of clients over the last 10 plus years with great success.
Prevention of Canker Sores
While canker sores are not always preventable, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing them.
- Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to keep your mouth clean and healthy.
- Avoid certain foods: If you are prone to canker sores, try to avoid foods that irritate your mouth, such as acidic and spicy foods.
- Manage stress: Stress can weaken the immune system and make you more vulnerable to canker sores. Try to manage stress through activities like yoga, meditation, or exercise.
- Consider supplements: Some studies suggest that taking supplements like vitamin B12, zinc, and folate may reduce the risk of developing canker sores.