Painful Mouth Sores Part I: Canker Sores

By July 27, 2015 Knowledge Center

By Vishant Nath DMD, Pediatric Dentist

Anyone who has had a mouth sore can attest to the discomfort that they can cause. Unfortunately they can even be present in children. Canker sores and cold sores are the two that are most common. This article will provide information on canker sores.

Canker sores are small ulcers that appear inside the mouth. They can be on the inside of the cheek, on the tongue, on the base of the gums or on the soft palate. They are usually round in shape and white or gray in color with a red edge or border. They may occur individually, or in groups. They usually begin as a red spot or bump. They may begin with a tingling or burning sensation before the bump even appears. They eventually become quite painful. Canker sores normally will disappear on their own after a period of 7 to 10 days. If they last longer than this, its best to see your dentist to have the sore checked out.

Canker sores are not pre-cancerous or contagious. Because they heal on their own, the main treatments available are to manage the pain. Some over the counter ointments can numb the area temporarily. Anti-microbial mouth rinses can also provide some relief.

The exact cause of canker sores is unknown. Fatigue, emotional stress and even certain foods can cause them. Biting the inside of the cheek may also cause them. Certain foods such as citrus or acidic foods (such as lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes and strawberries) can trigger a canker sore, or make them worse. A sharp tooth surface or a dental appliance such as braces can also trigger them. There is also evidence linking canker sores to a deficient immune system, and to bacterial or viral infections. In these cases, canker sores can be seen as symptom of a more serious problem.

If any of the following occurs, its best to have your canker sores looked at by your dentist:

  • If they are unusually large
  • If they last longer than 10 days
  • If you experience them on a regular basis

For most affected by canker sores, they are an occasional issue that cause discomfort, and then heal on their own. If they affect you or your children, the most you can do is try various treatments to ease the discomfort until they heal. Talk to your dentist about additional tips and treatments that may help.

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