A Canker sore is defined medically as a whitish often circular mouth sore lasting between ten to fourteen days. Canker sores are painful recurring ulcers (white spots) that appear inside the mouth on the cheeks or edge of the tongue. Signs and symptoms of canker sores may include:Painful sore or sores inside your mouth — on the tongue the soft palate and inside the cheeks Tingling or burning sensation prior to appearance of the sores Round whitish appearance to sores with a red edge or halo
It is generally believed that certain factors such as stress poor dental hygiene food allergies and nutritional deficiencies are possible triggers for canker sores. Each factor contributes in a different way to producing canker sores and the ways in which the most common factors cause these sores are outlined below.
Poor dental hygiene can lead to canker sores due to the type of toothpaste you use. Try toothpastes that do not contain the detergent sodium lauryl sulfate. This is a detergent that may cause the mucous surfaces in the mouth to dry out leaving them vulnerable to attack from acidic foods. Also do not use the same toothbrush for longer than one month and when canker sores on the gum are healing use a very soft toothbrush.
Irritation from dental work caused by using a rough hard-bristled toothbrush or pressing unduly hard while brushing the teeth can irritate the mucous membranes and create a canker sore.
Food allergies mechanisms are responsible for producing canker sores in many cases. Sensitivity to gluten (a protein found in grains) is the primary cause of recurrent canker sores in many cases. The frequency of recurrent canker sores is increased in patients with celiac disease a condition characterized by diarrhea and malabsorption due to sensitivity to gluten. Withdrawing gluten from the diet results in complete remission of recurrent canker sores in people with celiac disease.
Nutritional deficiencies can lead to canker sores with thiamine deficiency being the most significant one.
Biting the cheek can cause canker sores as the delicate tissues in the cheek are aggravated resulting in lacerations which can then lead to canker sores.
Foods lead to canker sores when you eat sharp dried or hard foods such as popcorn corn chips crackers or dried bread. These foods can hurt the oral mucous membrane resulting in canker sores.
Stress is often a precipitating factor in recurrent canker sores suggesting a breakdown in normal immune function and/or integrity of the mucosal lining.
There is nothing that will stop canker sores from recurring. However there are things that can be done to relieve the discomfort and to prevent an infection in the area during the 3-4 days when the sores are likely to be painful.
Two cleansing antiseptic mixtures are hydrogen peroxide diluted with water to half-strength and one teaspoon each of salt and baking soda to four ounces of water. These should be used as rinses or gargles four times a day.
There are also commercial over-the-counter preparations that help relieve the pain and cleanse the area. It is also helpful to avoid acidic foods that may irritate the sores. Neither vitamins nor special foods help the condition unless a specific deficiency exists.
Although stress is a precipitating factor in canker sores and affects their intensity and severity tranquilizers seem to give little relief. In severe or prolonged (more than 2 weeks) cases or especially if oral pain precludes eating and drinking a visit to a clinician is needed as there are prescription medications which may be helpful for symptomatic relief and prevention of secondary infection.
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