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Do you frequently get small, painful sores in your mouth that start to tingle or burn even before they show up? Are they pale white or yellow and surrounded by a red outer ring? These are canker sores, or “aphthous ulcers” which randomly show up inside the mouth (lips, cheeks, tongue, gums and palate) and disappear within a few days or weeks. Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not contagious, and they might show up as a single sore or a group.

Researchers don’t know the exact cause of canker sores, but a combination of factors is thought to contribute to their outbreak, and women seem to be more susceptible than men. They can also run in families. Usually, canker sores take 2-3 days to form and are painful for 3-10 days. They normally leave after a couple of weeks. While no one knows why they show up, researchers think it is combination of factors, even in the same person:

–A vitamin or mineral deficiency (folate, iron, vitamin B-12, zinc).
–Minor injury to your mouth (dental work, brushing too hard, biting the cheek).
–Food sensitivities (eggs, nuts, cheese, chocolate, coffee, strawberries, spicy or acidic foods).
–Emotional stress and hormonal changes.
–Allergic reaction to certain bacteria in the mouth.
–A compromised immune system (cold or flu, HIV/AIDS).
–Using toothpastes or mouthwashes with sodium lauryl sulfate.

Even though canker sores aren’t preventable, you can find relief for the symptoms. You will want to consume plain, bland, non-spicy foods. It helps to rinse your mouth with warm water often, and for severe symptoms, you can use a prescribed mouth rinse with steroid dexamethasone. There are also over-the-counter creams or ointments you can place on the sores. Large sores can be treated with steroid creams prescribed by your doctor. You should see your dentist if your canker sores are large, if you are getting more sores than you have before—and more often—and if you are experiencing symptoms like rashes, fever, diarrhea or joint pain. If you are low on vitamins and minerals, you may be prescribed vitamin B-6, B-12, folate, iron, or zinc to help.

You can find relief for canker sores. Please give our Lake City Family Dental Center team a call if you have any questions or concerns. We can be reached at 386.752.1342 today!