If you've ever suffered from a canker sore, then you know these small, persistent ulcers can be a real pain in the mouth. Unlike cold sores which appear on the outside of the mouth and are caused by a virus, canker sores are not contagious and usually disappear within a few weeks. Generally, canker sores make eating, swallowing, speaking and tooth brushing very painful. Fortunately, as the sore heals, the pain also diminishes.
Canker sores are characterized by one or more painful sores on the tongue, soft palate, insides of the cheeks or lips and the gums. These inflamed, tender sores are typically round, white, or gray in color, with a red surrounding border
While their exact cause is unknown, common triggers of a canker sore may include:
- Immune deficiencies
- Aggressive tooth brushing
- Oral tissue injury
- Allergic reaction
- Spicy or acidic foods
- Abrasive foods or dental appliances
If one does develop, rinse with salt water daily and apply an over-the-counter oral numbing agent to alleviate the pain. Doing so will speed up the healing process and make eating, drinking and brushing more bearable.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Monitor your canker sores as they develop to detect unusual changes. Canker sores will generally heal on their own and don't require treatment. If your sores are abnormally large, last longer than a few weeks or are so painful you can't eat or drink, you should make an appointment with our Owings Mills office. Recurring canker sores and intolerable pain is not normal and should be examined by a dentist.