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Canker Sores_ How to Prevent and Treat Them

Ouch! What is that awful sensation coming from inside my mouth? Could it be a canker sore? Canker sores, also known as Apthous Ulcers, are small, red spots with a yellow outline that typically appear on the gums, but can also appear on the inside of the cheeks.

Canker sores are one of the most common mouth ailments; deriving from a combination of a common virus as well as common bacteria, over 90% of the population can be affected by these pesky sores. Continue reading through the article to learn more about canker sores, and what you can do to help ease the pain

What Are Canker Sores?

Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that develop in the mouth. They can occur on the tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks, or on the lips. Canker sores are not contagious and usually heal on their own within 5-7 days. However, they can be painful and may make eating or talking difficult.

How to Prevent Canker Sores

Preventing canker requires first understanding what causes them. There are several possible causes of canker sores, including stress, trauma to the mouth (such as from biting or toothbrush irritation), certain foods (such as acidic fruits or spicy dishes), and deficiencies in vitamins B12, folic acid, or iron.

Prevent canker sores by working to reduce your stress and being intentional with your diet and oral hygiene habits. Avoid foods that irritate your mouth, such as acidic fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits), spicy foods, salty foods, or sharp-edged chips or crackers.

Other tips include using a soft toothbrush and brushing your teeth gently. Avoiding mouthwashes that contain alcohol may also help prevent canker sores.

How to Treat Canker Sores

There are a few things you can do to ease the discomfort of canker sores and speed up the healing process.

  • At the first sign of a canker sore- brush the area gently with a cotton tipped applicator. That removes the virus rich layer and decreases the severity of that sore. Use a different Q-Tip for each one.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day. This will help to cleanse the sore and promote healing.
  • Apply a topical cream or ointment to the sore. Over the counter medications, such as Kanka or Orabase (with Benzocaine) will help to soothe the pain and inflammation, although it does not completely cure canker sores.
  • Be careful with your foods. Avoid spicy, acidic, or crunchy foods that may irritate the sore.
  • Use ice. Apply ice to your canker sores to reduce pain. 
  • Seek medical assistance. Take over-the-counter pain relief medication if needed. You can also buy canker sore patches and specific canker sore medicines to alleviate your discomfort.
  • Call your dentist. If the sore is large or particularly painful, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment to apply to the area.

Canker sores typically heal within two weeks, however canker sores are also frequently confused with other oral sores, so if your sore does not improve after two weeks, or if you develop multiple sores, consult your dentist. They may prescribe a mouthwash or other medication to help treat the condition.

Why Choose the Belmont Dental Group?

The Belmont Dental Group is a comprehensive dental practice that offers a wide range of services to patients in the Belmont, MA area. We are proud to offer our patients the latest in dental technology and techniques, cosmetic dentistry, and dental emergency care in a warm and welcoming environment. We understand that choosing a dentist can be a daunting task, but we hope that after reading this, you will feel confident that the Belmont Dental Group is the right choice for you!