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If you have frequent tiny but painful sores in your mouth, you are not alone. Canker sores, or “aphthous ulcers” in the mouth are somewhat common and are not contagious (unlike cold sores). They show up inside the mouth under the inside of the lips, cheeks, tongue, gums and palate, and normally disappear within two weeks. They are pale white or yellow and are surrounded by a red outer ring. They might show up as a single sore or a group. Scientists don’t know exactly what causes canker sores, and a combination of factors is thought to contribute to their outbreak. Women seem to be more susceptible than men, and they often run in families.

Sometimes before the onset of a canker sore outbreak, you may have warning before the sore appears, with a burning or tingling. It can take 2-3 days for sores to form and they will hurt for 3-10 days. No one knows exactly why they show up, but researchers think it is combination of factors, even in the same person.

Canker Sore Causes:

–Emotional stress and hormonal changes.
–Allergic reaction to certain bacteria in the mouth.
–A compromised immune system (cold or flu, HIV/AIDS).
–Using toothpastes or mouthwashes with sodium lauryl sulfate.
–A vitamin or mineral deficiency (folate, iron, vitamin B-12, zinc).
–Minor injury to your mouth (dental work, brushing too hard, biting the cheek).
–Food sensitivities (eggs, nuts, cheese, chocolate, coffee, strawberries, spicy or acidic foods).

While you can’t actually prevent canker sore outbreaks, you can treat the symptoms. To help with the pain, you might want to stay off the spicy foods and stick with plain, bland choices. You can rinse your mouth with warm water and use over-the-counter creams or ointments to help with the discomfort. You may be prescribed mouth rinse with steroid dexamethasone, and large sores can be treated with steroid creams.

You might want to see your dentist if your canker sores are large, you are getting more sores than you used to (and more often), and if you are also experiencing accompanying symptoms like rashes, fever, diarrhea or joint pain. If you are low on vitamins and minerals, you may be prescribed vitamin B-6, B-12, folate, iron, or zinc.

Canker sores, while unpleasant, can be treated and made tolerable. Please give us a call if you have any questions or concerns. We can be reached at 501.228.6360 today!