Canker sores are small and painful ulcers that appear on the inside of your mouth, and can make basic activities such as talking and eating uncomfortable. Learn more about how to identify a canker sore and its causes, possible treatments and ways to prevent getting them in the future.
Identifying a Canker Sore
Canker sores are typically small white or yellow-shaped ulcers that can develop on your tongue, gums, or inside of cheeks and lips. If you notice one in your mouth, it will also have a burning or tingling sensation upon contact. Certain foods, especially citrus and acidic fruits, can easily trigger the pain from cold sores.
Do not confuse canker sores with cold sores. Canker sores are not contagious and will only develop on the inside of the mouth. Cold stores, also called fever blisters, are blisters filled with fluid and typically appear around the outside of the lips.
Causes of Canker Sores
Canker sores can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Tissue injuries
- Sharp dental appliances (braces, dentures)
- Certain foods (citrus or acidic foods)
- Nutritional deficiencies
Treatment for Canker Sores
Pain from canker sores typically lasts one to two weeks. Over-the-counter pain medication, and avoiding spicy and citrus foods will reduce pain. Home remedies such as salt water rinses and Benadryl can also be used to treat canker sores.
Preventing Canker Sores
Several steps can be taken to reduce canker sores in the future. The easiest step is to avoid eating foods that irritate your mouth. Citrus fruits and spicy foods (the same foods that trigger canker sore pain) are known to cause canker sores.
Another step is to start brushing with a soft-bristled brush following meals. Hard-bristled brushes can cause minor mouth traumas, so make the switch to reduce chances of mouth irritation from your toothbrush. If your canker sores are appearing around times of stress, consider stress-reducing techniques to keep canker sores at bay.
Lastly, reflect on your daily diet. Look for any nutrient deficiencies, and make steps towards increasing your intake of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12.