Dr. Saumitra Saravana
Canker sores (also called as Apthous Ulcers) are pretty common and it is estimated that 25% of the population has had one or two sores at some point in their lives. Thankfully, this pesky problem is a short lived one and mostly self-limiting.
There are three types of Canker Sores, Minor, Major and Herpetiform Ulcers. The first kind is the most common with a solitary small lesion. The other two manifest as multiple lesions and are difficult to manage, but are thankfully rare.
Canker sores usually start inside your mouth either on the tongue or cheek as sensitive or tingly or burning areas. This is then followed by the formation of an ulcer about the size of a pea. These do hurt quite a bit but are short lived and most patients usually feel better about the 6 or 7th day and are asymptomatic by the 10th day. Canker sores always happen on the insides of your mouth like your tongue, insides of your lips or cheeks and this makes them different from Cold Sores. Cold Sores happen quite frequently on the outsides of the lips and while Cold Sores are infectious, Canker Sores are not.
So…how do we stop them from occurring?
Since we are not really sure at this point as to what causes them there are multiple suggestions to prevent them from happening.
Some patients might be susceptible to Canker Sores due to nutritional imbalances. So if you find yourself getting Canker Sores frequently, Zinc, Folate, Vitamin B 12 and/or Iron supplements might help you control the frequency of occurrences.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) which is a chemical used in many toothpastes has been known to cause Canker Sores in susceptible patients. It might be beneficial for some patients to switch to a toothpaste that is SLS free. Toms of Maine, Sensodyne and Biotene are a few companies that make SLS free toothpastes.
What to do if you have one?
There are many home remedies that you are welcome to try. My personal favorite is to put a pinch of salt on the ulcer. It will hurt like crazy for a minute but does feel better for a long time after. If that sounds too radical, you could rinse your mouth with one tablespoon of salt and baking soda in four ounces of water multiple times a day.
If it hurts to eat, you could apply Oral Jel or a similar anesthetic over the lesion before you eat. You could make an anesthetic mouth wash by mixing a teaspoon of Benadryl Syrup with a teaspoon of Magnesium Hydroxide Antacid or Kaopectate and rinse your mouth multiple times a day. Make sure you spit out the rinse or you will be setting yourself for constipation!
Sometimes these ulcers can be really painful and you are welcome to stop by the office. Special cautery is available that can help reduce the pain from the lesion almost immediately. If you need help with Canker Sores in Fredericksburg or Stafford or for any other Dental Emergency call us at 540 370 8504.