Also known as aphthous ulcers, canker sores are small, often painful lesions that develop on the inner soft tissues of the mouth or at the base of the gum. Because they develop inside the mouth, they often make eating and talking quite difficult.
In most cases, these sores heal on their own, within a couple of weeks. But in case your canker sores are unusually large and painful or do not seem to get better even after a few weeks, it is best to consult a good dentist.
Causes of canker sores
The exact cause of canker sores is not very clear. However, according to the researchers, there are a number of risk factors that can contribute to the development of these sores. Some of the most common ones include:
- Any minor injury to your mouth caused by dental work, extremely hard brushing, accidental cheek bite or sports casualty.
- Use of toothpaste or mouth rinse containing sodium lauryl sulfate
- Sensitivity or allergy to foods such as eggs, cheese, nuts, chocolate, coffee, and acidic or spicy food
- Hormonal changes during menstruation
- Emotional stress
- Deficiency of zinc, iron, folic acid or vitamin B-12 in the body
In addition to the above-mentioned causes, canker sores may also develop because of certain diseases, such as:
- Inflammatory bowel disorder like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- HIV/ AIDS, which weakens the immune system
- Behcet’s disease, an uncommon illness that causes inflammation throughout the body, including the mouth
- Celiac disease, a chronic disorder that affects the intestine and is caused by sensitivity to gluten
Treatment for canker sores
Treatment for canker sores is generally not necessary, as they clear up on their own. But in case these sores become extremely painful, there are certain treatment options that can help.
Mouth rinses that contain a steroid, dexamethasone, can help in treating canker sores and reducing the pain and inflammation associated with it.
Various over-the-counter as well as prescription topical solutions, such as gels, pastes, and creams, can be helpful in speeding up the recovery process. Most of these products contain active ingredients such as
- Hydrogen peroxide
You can ask your doctor for their advice on the product that may work best for you.
This line of treatment is usually done when the canker sores become extremely big and excruciating and do not respond to any topical solutions. Medications for canker sores include
- Oral steroid medicines
- Medicines that are meant for treating conditions such as gout or intestinal ulcers
However, these medicines may cause certain side effects and must always be taken under the guidance of your doctor.
Cautery of sores
In this treatment option, a specific chemical or instrument is used to burn or destroy the mouth tissue.
Other than these, your doctor might also suggest taking some nutritional supplements to overcome the deficiency of nutrients like zinc, folate or vitamin B-6 and B-12.