Cankers: Causes and Cures

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Canker sores – those almost mocking, painful pinpricks of agony that make each moment you’re not engaged in something else an absolute drain. Let’s talk about what they are and how you can prevent them.

Cankers are small lesions in the mouth that appear as white or yellow dots with a red border on the insides of your cheeks or lips, under your tongue, and on the roof of your mouth. There are many things we think trigger cankers, but the exact reasons they develop are unknown. Daily stress and tissue damage from sharp teeth or dental appliances are thought to be the cause of many sores, while other may be caused by acidic foods. Vitamin deficiencies can contribute to canker sores, as well as certain diseases, such as celiac disease.

Canker sores can be annoyingly painful, but the pain generally reduces after a few days and is completely healed inside a week or two. Large sores can take longer to heal. If you have a sore that persists for longer than 3 weeks, contact us right away.

Small canker sores don’t normally need treatment, but large, persistent, or unusually painful sores often need professional care. They can be treated using dental lasers or cauterizing chemicals, and this usually provides instant pain relief. Be sure to ask Dr. Kimberlee J. Karey about this treatment if you have a persistent sore. A steroid mouth rinse can reduce the swelling and pain, and there are a few over-the-counter and prescription topical medications that can reduce the pain and reduce the time needed for healing.

Your daily habits can help prevent canker sores. To reduce your likelihood, follow these tips:

  • Avoid foods that irritate your mouth, including acidic fruits and vegetables, spicy foods, and abrasive or salty foods.
  • Avoid irritating your mouth when chewing gum.
  • Brush with a soft-bristled tooth brush after eating to remove foods that may trigger sores.
  • If you have braces or dentures, ask your dentist about orthodontic waxes to cover any sharp edges.
  • Reduce your stress. Since some canker sores can be related to stress, meditation and guided relaxation can help prevent recurring sores.

If you have abnormally large sores, sores that spread, last 3 weeks or longer, have unusually strong pain even after taking over-the counter pain medicine, or a high fever with appearance of sores, contact Kimberlee J. Karey, DDS in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today. Your sore may be more serious and need professional care.

If you have more questions about canker sores, please call us today at 734.668.6612, and we’ll be happy to help you.