Canker Sores

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What is it?

Canker sores are usually tiny ulcers that appear on the mouth. They are often very shallow but can make certain actions such as eating uncomfortable and painful. According to WebMD canker sores can appear as common or complex sores. The first type often occurs in individuals between the ages of ten and twenty. These are simple sores that may occur up to four times a year and lasts up to seven days. The other type of canker sore is more complex and tends to occur more frequently in individuals who have already had them.

Causes

Although the cause of canker sores has not been identified, it is believed that there are multiple different factors that are likely to contribute to the problem. Stress is often cited as a likely cause of common canker sores.

It is also believed that foods that are highly acidic can trigger the common canker sore, such as oranges, apples and tomatoes. Tissue injury is also likely to contribute to the problem.

When it comes to more complex forms of the canker sore, some researchers believe that there may be a genetic component involved in contracting the sore. WebMD also warns that the complex canker sore may be indicative of an underlying issue with the immune system or nutritional deficits. Some examples include low levels of iron or folic acid.

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Symptoms

Many individuals may not realize that they have a canker sore until they experience pain and discomfort while eating or swallowing fluids. There are different signs and symptoms of canker sores, therefore it is important to be able to properly identify the problem. Some canker sores will appear shallower, but will have a white center. They will usually clear up within two weeks.

Other canker sores will appear as deeper ulcers and may have the same white center. Individuals who have this more complex form of canker sores will experience significant pain which may occasionally be accompanied by a fever. These sores will often remain for up to six weeks and will usually leave some form of scarring as it heals.

Diagnosis

Most canker sores can be diagnosed with very minimal testing because they have a unique appearance. In addition, the patient’s medical history will also be an important factor when diagnosing the canker sore. Since canker sores are often recurrent, any previous occurrences of the sore will be considered. Blood tests may sometimes be required if the patient exhibits a more serious form of the sore.

A biopsy may also be required if the patient shows signs of a deeper or more persistent ulcer. This is necessary because it could indicate early signs of cancer. In addition, the doctor will also need to differentiate potential canker sores from other diseases such as herpes. In this case, they will diagnose a canker sore if small blisters appeared before the ulcer.

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Treatment

There is no known cure for canker sores. However, there are different ways to alleviate some of the pain and discomfort. In cases where the canker sore is shallow it will often heal itself. However, you can minimize any discomfort by regularly rinsing your mouth with mouthwash or water mixed with a teaspoon of salt. If the sore is more persistent, then numbing ointments such as Anbesol are often recommended.

If the doctor suspects a complex canker sore, they will often prescribe some type of dental paste such as Triamcinolone which is applied to the sore directly after meals. Tetracycline is a medicated mouth wash that is also believed to be an effective treatment to alleviate the pain. However, it does not prevent the canker sores from recurring.