So What is a Canker Sore?
If you pull your lip or cheek out when you have a canker sore, you should see a small, whitish looking spot. A canker sore is just a small ulcer that forms in the oral tissue, usually accompanied with minor inflammation around the sore site. Canker sores are very tender, and they sting on contact.
Canker sores come in three varieties:
- Minor Aphthous Stomatitis: The minor form of a canker sore. These sores are usually around 1cm in diameter, heal in a week, and don’t cause scarring.
- Major Aphthous Stomatitis: A more severe form of a canker sore. These sores generally take around 2 weeks to heal and are larger than 1cm in diameter.
- Herpetiform Aphthous Stomatitis: A very rare form of a canker sore. These sores often present in clusters of smaller sores, but they may merge into larger ulcers in some cases.
Simple canker sores typically last from 1-3 weeks, and they may hurt for around a week. More severe canker sores, however, may last as long as 6 weeks.
The exact cause of canker sores is unclear, but they often are associated with certain conditions. The following things may cause canker sores:
- Accidental biting of the cheek: If you accidentally bite your cheek while eating, you may cause a minor break in the surface of the tissue. However, this small wound can worsen into a canker sore through repeated biting, infection, and/or exposure to certain foods
- Food Allergy: A canker sore may also be a form of allergic reaction. To avoid allergen-related canker sores, be sure to closely read the packaging of any food you eat and ask your server if a dish contains the allergen.
- Vitamin Deficiency: Canker sores may also form as a result of a vitamin deficiency in your diet. Studies have found a correlation between canker sores and diets low in Vitamins B3, B9, and B12, though the precise reason is still unclear.
- Stress: Stress may also cause canker sores. High-stress levels may disrupt your body’s hormone balance, which could explain the emergence of sores.
- Immune System Error: Canker sores may also emerge as the result of an immune system dysfunction. Sometimes, the body sends white blood cells to attack the tissue in the mouth, and the theory goes, causing a canker sore.
Since the exact cause of canker sores is unclear, there are numerous other theories to consider. However, these appear to be the best explanations.
How to Treat Canker Sores
Canker sores can be annoyingly painful, making basic functions like eating and talking a nuisance. Here are some tips to treat canker sores and, hopefully, help them heal faster.
Since they are sores, it is important to disinfect canker sores in order to avoid a worse infection.
An easy DIY way to clean your canker sores is a simple saltwater rinse.
- Mix some table salt with an eight-ounce glass of water.
- Rinse for thirty seconds, and spit out the mixture.
- Using hydrogen peroxide is also an effective way of cleansing the wound.
A cup of tea may alleviate the pain of a canker sore. Chamomile, in particular, contains natural ingredients that soothe the sting of an oral sore. Make yourself a cup, swish the tea in your mouth, and give the tea time to take effect.
Baking soda also makes for a cheap homemade remedy. If you’ve ever had a cut on your hand and touched a lemon on that spot, you know that acids agitate open wounds. Baking soda, on the contrary, is a base, which is the opposite of an acid, and bases and acids neutralize one another when they come into contact.
So, putting baking soda on a canker sore neutralizes any acids that may have gotten into the sore. Additionally, the baking soda may prevent the sore from future acids by creating a primary environment in the sore.
If you don’t want to go down the at-home-remedy path, some over-the-counter treatments may alleviate your canker sore. There are numerous gels available on the market that will run between $7 and $10. If you have a minor canker sore, you may want to consider a single-dose treatment.
Preventing Canker Sores
It seems safe to say that you’d rather prevent a sore than treating one, so some preventative tips would be helpful. Because the exact cause of canker sores is unclear, there is no surefire preventative measure yet. However, the following methods seem to help consistently.
One of the simplest ways to avoid canker sores is to lower your stress levels. Stress appears to be a common factor when canker sores present, so lowering stress may, therefore, help you avoid sores. In fact, lowering your stress has numerous benefits for your overall health, not just for canker sores.
For example, high levels of stress have often been thought to increase one’s risk of heart disease, so lowering stress may reduce your risk of heart disease (however, it should be noted that this has not been confirmed; it is still a working theory).
Another way to avoid canker sores is to make adjustments to your diet. As was mentioned above, canker sores can emerge when you lack certain vitamins in your diet. Making sure you meet your daily levels of Vitamins B3, B9, and B12 could help you avoid canker sores.
Additionally, lowering the amount of acidic and spicy foods in your diet could prevent canker sores from developing or worsening. These foods irritate canker sores, increasing the pain.
Finally, proper oral hygiene could help prevent canker sores. Proper brushing with an effective toothpaste and dental care can control the amount of harmful bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria can agitate or inflame existing sores, but they can potentially cause sores to develop, as well.
Additionally, using the dentist-recommended soft-bristle toothbrush will help you avoid brush-related damage to your oral tissue, damage that can develop into a sore. Ensuring that you’re regularly flossing with either floss or an oral irrigator will help keep bacteria out of your mouth and contribute to reducing the risk of canker sores. Choosing an effective mouthwash can help with this as well.
So there you have it. Canker sores are a nuisance, but a few simple tips and adjustments to your lifestyle can help you avoid these obnoxious irritations.
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Source: Healthy Holistic Living
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