Canker sores – the tiny white lesions that can develop on the oral soft tissues – aren’t harmful or contagious. However, at best they are an inconvenience; and at worst, they can be painful. At Seasons of Smiles in Camden, ME, we see many patients who suffer from canker sores (also known as aphthous ulcers). Today, we’ll explore the symptoms, causes, and treatment of canker sores so you can alleviate your discomfort faster. Dr. Medina will even share which treatments have been most effective for his own family.
Common Canker Sore Symptoms
Canker sores affect the lips, tongue, gums, soft palate, or inside of your cheeks. They are typically white or yellow in color and round or oval in shape – usually with a red border around them. Sometimes patients feel a burning or tingling sensation a few days prior to their development. These lesions can be painful, and can make eating and speaking uncomfortable.
What Causes Canker Sores?
There is no known single cause of these lesions. Experts believe it is often a combination of factors that lead to their development. These could include:
- Minor trauma, such as an accidental cheek bite or a sports-related soft tissue injury
- Sensitivities to certain foods such as strawberries, nuts, or spicy foods
- Sodium lauryl sulfate, which is found in many toothpastes and mouth washes
- Allergic reactions to certain oral bacteria
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Emotional stress
- A diet weak in zinc, folate, iron, or vitamin B12
- Certain diseases or disorders such as celiac, Crohn’s, Behcet’s, HIV, AIDS, and ulcerative colitis
Who is at Risk?
Anyone can develop these lesions. However, they tend to occur more in females, teens, and young adults. Those with recurrent canker sores often have family members who suffer from them too. Experts believe this could be due to genetics or shared allergens in the environment.
Canker Sore Treatment
Dr. Medina has many family members who struggle with recurrent canker sores. Over the years, they’ve tried several treatments. But their favorite? Debacterol. Also known as sulfuric acid, this product is a liquid gel that is applied directly to the canker sore. Rather than an antiseptic or anesthetic, Debacterol actually destroys the nerve endings at the site, thus reducing pain. Some studies have even found Debacterol to be more effective than Kenalog-in-Orabase, which is commonly prescribed for canker sores.
Oftentimes, patients need more than one tool in their arsenal against canker sores. A new product on the market, Orajel™ Antiseptic Mouth Sore Rinse, kills oral bacteria and promotes healing of the soft tissues. We think it’s certainly worth a try if you feel those dreaded symptoms coming on.
If you suffer from canker sores, our team can help you triage the problem. Sometimes trial and error is necessary to find out what works for you. We can give you recommendations.
Canker Sore Prevention
Those who are prone to the development of these lesions can take a few steps to reduce their risk:
- Avoid any foods that could irritate your mouth.
- Incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and veggies into your diet.
- Practice good oral hygiene.
- If stress is an issue, focus on re-centering techniques, such as meditation and mindfulness.
- If you wear braces, cover any sharp areas with orthodontic wax to protect your tissues.
Contact Our Camden Practice Today
Prompt treatment can help reduce painful canker sore symptoms. To learn more, schedule a visit at Seasons of Smiles by calling (207) 236-4740.