Canker Sores

Canker sores are lesions that appear small and shallow and develop on the soft tissue in mouth and at base of gums. Canker sores do not occur outside on lips, and they are not contagious, something that differentiates them from cold sores. These sores could be painful making eating difficult. Canker sores are also known as aphthous ulcers. In most cases, they appear and go away on their own after about one or two weeks.

Canker sores are often confused with cold sores but these two are not the same thing. Cold sores are a kind of fever blisters or a type of herpes simplex one. The cold sores are very contagious unlike canker sores, which are not contiguous. Canker sores are not caused by bacteria or virus and do not appear on lips but cold sores can extend to the lips and under the chin. Canker sores remain inside the mouth.

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What are the symptoms of canker sores?

Most of the canker sores appear round or oval and consists of a white/grayish to yellowish center and a reddened border. The sores form inside a mouth and could be found under the tongue, and inside lips and cheeks. They may also be found at base of gums and on the soft palate. These sores do not appear outside the mouth such as on lip surfaces. This is one way you can differentiate them from cold sores.

A person suffering from these sores experiences a burning sensation or tingling for a day or two prior to the appearance of the actual sores. Minor sores are small, oval and will heal without causing scars within one or two weeks. Major canker sores are less common and have a lager and deeper appearance with irregular edges. They may take more time to heal such as about 6 weeks and they are able to leave extensive scars.

Herpertiform canker sores develop later in life and they are pinpoint in size. These kinds of canker sores occur in clusters of about 10 to 100 sores and have irregular edges. They also heal without scarring in one or two weeks.

How long do canker sores last ?

In essence, a person suffering from canker sores experiences tingling and burning sensation before the sores appear. There are crater-like ulcers that are small and painful. The sores appear singly or in clustering form in the mouth and usually last for about five to 10 days. The sores are grayish or pale yellow with reddened borders.

If the sores are extremely painful, you need to visit doctor. Similarly, if they last more than 14 days, you also need to see a doctor as they may indicate a more serious health condition. Patients with frequent occurrence of canker sores need thorough examination to determine if they are at risk of suffering other health problems. The canker sores may indicate underlying problems such as celiac disease, anemia, leukemia, oral cancer, pemphigus, or inflammatory bowel disease.

What causes canker sores ?

It is not exactly known what causes canker sores. However, research points out that there are several factors, which could be contributing to the cause of these sores. Stress and tissue injury are thought to trigger simple canker sores. Similarly, certain foods such as acidic fruits and vegetable may also trigger these sores. A sharp tooth surface may also induce the sores. Dental appliances like ill-fitting dentures and braces could as well trigger canker sores. An underlying health condition like impaired immune system may cause the sores. Iron deficiency, crohn’s disease and Celiac could lead to these sores.

A minor injury in the mouth arising from dental work, brushing, cheek bite or acidic food can induce the condition. Toothpastes and mouth rinses with sodium lauryl sulfate may also cause the problem. Sensitivity to foods like eggs, coffee, chocolate, cheese and nuts or acidic foods like lemons and apples may induce canker sores. A diet lacking vitamin B-12 and iron may also trigger the condition.

If you have an allergic response to certain bacteria, which causes peptic ulcers, you may develop the condition. Hormonal shifts in menstruation can as well trigger canker sores. Emotional stress have been associated with these sores. Suppressed immune system such as that of people with HIV/AIDs may as well trigger canker sores to appear.

Treatment for canker sores

Minor sores may not require any treatment because they tend to clear on their own. Within about two weeks, minor canker sores will clear and disappear. However, when you have larger and persistent canker sores, it is essential that you seek medical attention. This is because enlarged and unusually painful canker sores may be an indication of underlying condition.

There are different options available to treat canker sores and they include mouth rinses, use of topical ointments and corticosteroids. If you suffer painful sores, you may be prescribed mouth rinses that contain steroid dexamethasone to reduce the pain.

Pictures of canker sores

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