Canker sores are small but very painful sores that occur inside the mouth. They usually erupt on the cheeks, tongue, floor of the mouth, or gums. They range in size from a pinhead to a pea. Approximately 20% of the population are affected by recurring canker sores.
What causes canker sores?
Canker sores appear to be caused by stress, nicks and diet. Stress can be caused by any situation that creates anxiety. Nicks can be caused by biting the cheek, tongue or by reactions from hot foods or drinks. Sometimes certain foods can cause canker sores to break out.
Regardless of what causes them, once a canker sore is contracted the probability of recurrence is high.
Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not contagious. Typically, they will go away in about 8-10 days.
What do canker sores look like?
Canker sores start as small circular reddish swellings that usually rupture within a day. The ruptured sores are covered by thin whitish areas that are surrounded by reddish inflammation. Since they are open sores, they hurt when touched. Because they are located in the mouth, there is ample opportunity for a variety of substances (saliva, food and drinks) to irritate them.
Canker sores are often confused with cold sores. The primary difference is that while canker sores occur inside the mouth, cold sores erupt outside the mouth.
Products which form a bandage-like film over the canker sore provide immediate relief and prolonged pain-free eating and drinking.
How to get rid of canker sores?
Canker sores generally heal by themselves without treatment within a week or two. To ensure that your canker sores heal as quickly as possible, here are a few things that you can do.
- Avoid foods and drinks that will irritate the sore. Foods like potato chips and pretzels are abrasive and can rub against the sore. Drinks like orange juice and tomato juice are acidic and can sting the sore.
- Be careful not to irritate the sore with a toothbrush or with eating utensils.
- Ask your dentist or pharmacist to recommend a product that will provide pain relief from the sore.
- Choose a film-forming product. This type of product will coat the sore, providing relief and protecting it from getting irritated.