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Anderson Atkins DDS Blog

Confused About Canker Sores?

Growing up, I remember getting “ulcers” on the inside of my bottom lip fairly often. These shallow sores were often white or yellow in the center with a red outline. I didn’t know much about them or how to treat them. These “ulcers” are actually canker sores and there are several different types and severities. Canker sores develop on the soft tissue inside of your mouth causing that area of your cheeks, lips, or gums to be extremely tender. This makes eating and talking difficult. Canker sores are not related to cold sores which typically form on the outside of your mouth and are highly contagious. If you experience canker sores, you’re not alone! And you don’t have to be confused about them any longer. Here are commonly asked questions about those annoying, painful, sores.

What Causes a Canker Sore?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive cause of canker sores. However, there are several theories about contributing factors to the development of these sores. The first culprit is stress. Notice when the canker sores develop and determine whether or not your circumstances are stressful. Learning techniques to help you cope with your stress may help you avoid these sores. Certain foods may play into the presence of canker sores. Acidic foods, coffee, chocolate, eggs, and spicy foods may contribute to canker sores or make them worse. If you have a food sensitivity or allergy, you may notice canker sores when you consume those foods. On the flip side, canker sores may develop as a result of a nutrient deficiency. Make sure your diet includes vitamin B12, iron, folate, and zinc. Irritations in your mouth caused by bacteria or braces can increase your risk for canker sores. People with Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or a faulty immune system seem to develop canker sores on a more regular basis. Canker sores tend to affect more women than men and are most common between the ages of 10-20. 

Is there a Difference between Canker Sores?

There are three types of canker sores that determine the severity of the ulcer. A simple canker sore is the most common type. It is identified by its oval shape and red edge. While it is uncomfortable, it is small and typically heals within two weeks without any scarring. A complex canker sore is extremely painful and is larger and deeper than simple sores. It may have an irregular edge, is usually round in shape, and may last up to six weeks. With complex canker sores, scarring is expected. Even though they are uncommon, herpetiform canker sores can develop later in life. Its name can be misleading because it is not caused by the herpes virus. Herpetiform canker sores are identified as pinpoint sized sores that form in clusters of 10 to 100 sores. In some cases, it merges into one large sore. It does not have a regularly shaped edge but only lasts for two weeks and usually doesn’t leave any scars.

When Should I Contact My Dentist?

In most cases, canker sores will heal on their own over a short period of time (even though the annoyance and discomfort may feel like it lasts forever). If the ulcer does not heal within two weeks, your pain is persistent, or new sores form before old ones heal, you should make an appointment. You can also schedule a visit if you have an unusually large canker sore, have difficulty eating or drinking, cannot self-regulate your pain, or notice the sores extend onto your lip. If you have dentures, braces, or a sharp tooth surface that may be contributing to your canker sores, you need to call your dentist.

If you’re looking for a family dentistry in the Bryan-College Station area, Anderson & Atkins, DDS is accepting new patients. We value the overall health of your mouth and will help you remedy your canker sore pain. If you have questions about persistent canker sores or want to schedule an appointment, contact us using our contact form, or call our office at (979) 846-1813.

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