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Tired of repeated sores on your tongue, inner cheeks etc.? You may be having what is known as CANKER SORES. Canker sores are common and have many causes. In this piece, we will be discussing what canker sores are, predisposing factors, symptoms, how to prevent it.

What Are Canker Sores?

Canker Sores are small, shallow sores that can be located on your tongue, inner cheek, gums. They can be painful sometimes and can make eating or drinking very difficult. Don’t mix it up with cold sores, which are caused by a virus and sores are also present on the lips and are contagious.
Most canker sores go away on their own in a week or two.

What Are the Causes of Canker Sores?

The causes of canker sores are usually unknown, however, the following factors have been fingered to predispose to it:

  1. Hereditary: If any member of your family has it, your chances of developing canker sores increase.
  2. Stress: Especially emotional stress
  3. Hormonal fluctuation: Hormonal shifts during menstruation.
  4. Food Allergy: Particularly sensitivities to to chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese, and spicy or acidic foods
  5. Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency: A diet lacking in vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron 8.
  6. Immune System Problem: A faulty immune system that attacks healthy cells in your mouth instead of pathogens, such as virus, bacteria e.g HIV/AIDS
  7. Mouth Injury: A minor injury to your mouth from dental work, overzealous brushing, sports mishaps or an accidental cheek bite.
  8. Toothpastes and mouth rinses containing sodium lauryl sulfate

Are There Any Symptoms Associated With It?

Yes, there are associated symptoms. They include:

  1. Burning or tingling sensation in an area of inflammation before a sore appears.
  2. Formation of ulcer in 2 to 3 days.
  3. Sores are usually round, shallow and symmetric on all sides.
  4. They are painful.
  5. Appearance on the inner part of the lips and cheeks and the tongue.

In some cases, other symptoms may also be present, including:

1. Swollen lymph nodes

2. fever

3. not feeling well

Can You Prevent It?

Canker sores often recur, but you may be able to reduce their frequency by following these tips:

  1. Watch what you eat. Try to avoid foods that seem to irritate your mouth. These may include nuts, chips, certain spices, salty foods and acidic fruits, such as pineapple, grapefruit and oranges. Avoid any foods to which you’re sensitive or allergic.
  2. Choose healthy foods. To help prevent nutritional deficiencies, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  3. Follow good oral hygiene habits. Regular brushing after meals and flossing once a day can keep your mouth clean and free of foods that might trigger a sore. Use a soft brush to help prevent irritation to delicate mouth tissues, and avoid toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
  4. Protect your mouth. If you have braces or other dental appliances, ask your dentist about orthodontic waxes to cover sharp edges.
  5. Reduce your stress. If your canker sores seem to be related to stress, learn and use stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation.

Are There Any Treatment Options Available?

Canker sores usually heal without treatment.

When you visit a doctor or dentist, main treatment options include:

  1. Pain relievers
  2. Mouth rinses
  3. Corticosteroids taken by mouth.

When Should You Start Getting Worried?

As noted before, most canker sores heal without treatment; However, visit your dentist when you notice the following:

  1. Unusually large canker sores
  2. Recurring sores, with new ones developing before old ones heal, or frequent outbreaks
  3. Persistent sores, lasting two weeks or more
  4. Sores that extend into the lips themselves (vermilion border)
  5. Pain that you can’t control with self-care measures
  6. Extreme difficulty eating or drinking
  7. High fever along with canker sores.

Between Oral Cancer and Canker Sores

A mouth cancer may appear as a canker sore, but it won’t heal without treatment. Some symptoms of oral cancer are similar to those of canker sores, like painful ulcers and swelling in your neck

If you experience these symptoms along with canker sore symptoms, see your doctor right away to rule out mouth cancer as a cause:

  1. Bleeding from your mouth or gum
  2. Loose Teeth
  3. Trouble Swallowing
  4. Earaches

Between Canker Sores and Cold Sores

Cold sores are similar to canker sores.However the following are the ways you know whether you have cold sores or Canker sores:

  1. Unlike canker sores, cold sores can appear outside of your mouth.
  2. Cold sores also appear first as blisters, not inflamed sores, and become sores after the blisters pop.
  3. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. This virus is carried within your body and can be triggered by stress, exhaustion, and even sunburn.
  4. You can also get cold sores on your lips, nose, and your eyes.

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  1. Mayoclinic
  2. Healthline
  3. MSD Manual


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