Although they’re small in size, canker sores can cause big problems. These unwanted mouth ulcers affect your ability to eat, talk, brush and more. Plus, canker sores can really hurt!
Let’s take a look what causes canker sores, how they can be treated and what role your dentist should play in prevention:
What Are Canker Sores?
Canker sores are hard to miss. They’re shallow, open ulcers which appear inside your mouth.
You’ll most likely feel the canker sore before you see it. They introduce themselves with a stinging, burning sensation before the sore itself becomes visible.
Canker sores are round, white-gray ulcers with a red border. They can appear basically anywhere inside your mouth including your inner cheek, the roof of your mouth or anywhere on your tongue. More extreme canker sore symptoms can include fever, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes.
There are two types of canker sores:
Many people deal with an occasional simple canker sore. Everyone can potentially have a simple canker sore, but they’re most common in people between the ages of 10 and 20.
Simple canker sores usually last no longer than a week. If you get four or fewer canker sores a year, they’re probably the simple type.
Complex canker sores are a more chronic issue. If you get multiple canker sores at once, or more than four canker sores a year, you’re probably dealing with complex canker sores.
Complex canker sores are usually caused by an underlying health issue. You’ll likely need to work with a doctor or dental professional in order to diagnose and treat ongoing, frequent canker sores.
What Causes Canker Sores?
Unfortunately, there’s no one specific cause of canker sores. You and your dentist will have to narrow down a few potential factors.
Canker sores can be caused by stress. Diagnosing stress-induced cankers usually requires identifying other stress-related health problems. Short-term stress can cause simple canker sores while chronic stress can lead to the complex type.
Tissue injuries are another common cause of canker sores. Braces, dentures or dental appliances can cut, rub or irritate surfaces inside your mouth.
Diet is another potential factor. Acidic fruits and vegetables such as lemons, oranges, pineapples and more can also cause canker sores. Even if they’re not the cause, many of these foods can turn a mild canker sore into a far more painful experience.
Diet also affects overall nutrition. A lack of iron, folic acid, Vitamin B-12 or zinc can lead to chronic canker sores. Diet-related gastrointestinal issues such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease are another potential source.
Many complex canker sores are caused by a larger medical condition. Immune system issues can lead to frequent canker sores. An adverse reaction to medication is another common cause.
Are Cold Sores Related to Canker Sores?
No, they’re different issues with different causes and treatments. Also known as fever blisters, cold sores are fluid-filled blisters which appear outside of the mouth. The medical term is Herpes Simplex Virus 1.
They’ll usually show up around the lips, nose or chin. Cold sores are caused by a virus. They’re also extremely contagious.
How Are Canker Sores Treated?
If you just have an occasional simple canker sore, you probably don’t need to run off to the dentist. Give the sore about a week. It’ll likely heal on its own.
There are a few easy treatments to try with a simple canker sore. Cold fluids often help. If liquid touching the canker sore is painful, try using a straw. Some people find relief by holding ice directly against the canker sore.
Avoid irritating simple canker sores by abstaining from acidic, spicy and citric foods. Brush your teeth properly, with a soft brush, to avoid scraping the sore.
When Should I See a Dentist for Canker Sore Treatment?
Consult with a dental professional if your canker sores are large, if they’re spreading throughout your mouth or if they last more than two weeks.
Are your canker sores interfering with your ability to eat and drink? Do you have a fever or other health problems? Have you started taking any new kinds of medications? Answering yes to any of those means you’ll want to schedule an appointment.
Basically, if you have any doubt about the severity of a canker sore, you should visit a dental professional. Your dentist can offer treatment solutions as well as help diagnose any larger potential health issues.
If you’re concerned about the cost of a dental visit (and who isn’t?) you might want to consider a dental savings plan. Also called a dental discount plan, it’s an affordable alternative to dental insurance.
Dental savings plans have no health restrictions, so you can join even if you currently have severe canker sore problems. You can start saving on dental care immediately after you become a member.
Over 100,000 participating dentists are located across the country. Present your savings plan membership card at the dentist’s office to automatically receive a discount. Depending on the plan and procedures, you can receive a discount between 10% and 60%.
Don’t suffer needlessly from the pain of canker sores. Affordable, effective canker sore treatments are available today.