Canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers by medical professionals, are painful ulcerations of the soft tissue inside the mouth.  They can occur on the tongue, the floor of the mouth, the throat region, and the inside of the lips and cheeks.  Aphthous ulcers typically are white to yellow in color with a bright red border.  

Unknown Cause of Canker Sores

Unfortunately, we do not know exactly what causes canker sores.  Some people seem to be more prone to them, experiencing them on a frequent basis with any minor injury (like accidentally biting your lip) or added stress.  While we do not know the exact cause, we know that they tend to occur when your immune system is working overtime, so you may be at risk for them when you are fighting a cold or other infection.

The people who are prone to them will often develop an ulcer after any type of injury in the mouth, and sometimes this can even include the minor irritation from a professional teeth cleaning.

Different Types of Sores

Aphthous ulcers can occur in three different types.  The minor ulcers are relatively small and last for seven to ten days.  Major aphthous ulcers are as large as a nickel and can last up to six weeks.  These are obviously extremely painful.  The third category of aphthous ulcers are herpetiform ulcers, given this name because they occur in small clusters of multiple cores like oral herpes lesions do.  It is very simple for your dentist to distinguish between an oral herpetic lesion and herpetiform ulcers because they do not occur on the same types of oral tissues.  We can tell simply by their location.

Home Remedies for Canker Sores

The simplest and fastest way to relieve the pain of canker sores is to hold a small ice cube in your mouth over the sore.  This will cause a mild numbing effect and reduce inflammation.  Another easy home remedy is a warm saltwater rinse.  You can mix up a batch of warm saltwater and swish it around your mouth for one to two minutes up to five times a day.  Studies show that a saltwater rinse cleans the ulcer and reduces inflammation.

CAUTION: Do not use numbing products like Orajel or Anbesol on a canker sore.  These medications may relieve the pain for a short time, but they also slow down the healing process.

How Can My Premier Dentist Help?

We know how painful aphthous ulcers can be.  Your Premier Dentist can help by performing anti-inflammatory laser treatments or prescribing a steroid ointment to speed up the healing process.  Depending on your unique situation, we may also recommend some dietary changes until the ulcer heals.

If you are struggling with canker sores, schedule an appointment at your local Premier Dental Office. Our board-certified dentists will work with you to get to the root of the problem and provide a treatment plan that will heal your existing sores and work to prevent them from returning.

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