Canker Sores – What Are They?

Sometimes mixed up with cold sores, canker sores (also known as aphthous ulcers) manifest only on the inside of the mouth and are not contagious.

Canker sores are believed to have affected nearly twenty percent (one in five) of people. 

One can recognize these sores by their oval shape with a red border, and usually a white, gray or yellow center. Canker sores can be painful, but most will disappear by themselves in a few days to a couple of weeks.

Possible causes:

The actual causes of canker sores is unclear, though heredity is a part of it. Canker sores typically afflict people ages 10 to 20 years old and affect women about 2X as much as men. They often show up at the location of mouth injuries, and connections have been discovered between stress and canker sores. Links have been discovered between canker sores and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a chemical found in some types of toothpaste, as well. Finally, canker sores might be an indication of problems of the immune system.

Canker sores come in three types. While the majority of occurrences are minor canker sores, the other types are major and herpetiform canker sores. The Mayo Clinic has more to read about these other types on their website.

Treatment options

No form of treatment is usually needed if you are suffering with a minor canker sore. However, there are a few options to reduce further pain.

  • Refrain from eating spicy foods as well as those that could be scratchy or hard, as these will irritate the wound.
  • Consider using a toothpaste without SLS and don’t brush the sore with a toothbrush.

Ways to avoid getting a canker sore

  • Watch out for types of foods which irritate your mouth.
  • Be sure to get proper nutrition and are avoiding vitamin deficiency
  • For those of you with braces, orthodontic wax can protect your mouth from injury.
  • Reduce stress.

Check with Dr. Aerni or your doctor if you have a canker sore that is unusually large or especially painful, or one that doesn’t seem to heal.