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Canker Sores

by Linda McGuire RDH

canker sore

We don’t really know the exact cause of canker sores, but we do see them more often when there is some sort of tissue damage or even stress.  Habits such as chewing on your cheek or lip can cause the sore due to damage of the tissues.  Eating a lot of foods that have acidic properties such as oranges and pineapples can cause irritation from the acid.  Broken or cracked teeth can cause irritation to the tissues as well.  People who wear dentures or braces may be prone to having tissue irritation resulting in canker sores.

Many people confuse canker sores with cold sores.  They are not the same thing.  Cold sores are caused by a virus, are contagious, and usually on the outside of your mouth.  Canker sores are normally found on this inside of your mouth or on your tongue.  In a case where there is a severe canker sore, you can experience sluggishness, swollen lymph nodes, and fever as well.

Treatment of canker sores is normally not necessary, but sometimes, if they are really severe, a steroid ointment or antimicrobial rinse can be prescribed.  At times a solution can be used to reduce the pain and irritation.

Canker sores can sometimes be prevented by avoiding acidic foods, avoiding chewing on your gum tissues such as cheek or lip, and using a soft bristle toothbrush.

You should call your dentist about canker sores if you have:

  • Unusually large sores
  • Sores that are spreading
  • Sores that last 3 weeks or longer
  • Intolerable pain despite avoiding trigger foods and taking over-the-counter pain medication
  • Difficulty drinking enough fluids
  • A high fever with the appearance of the canker sores

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