23 Sep 2016 Canker Sores Explained
Canker sores are a common oral health condition that can have many causes. If you’ve never had a canker sore before, these painful lesions can have you running to the dentist asking, “what are canker sores?” While they are definitely uncomfortable, the good news is that most clear up on their own and are preventable with some simple self-care strategies.
How Did This Happen?
The reasons for why we get cankers sores can vary, depending upon your lifestyle and exposure to irritants. So, what are canker sores, and how are they caused? The majority of sores are caused by a breakdown in your immune system that may be triggered by a virus or an oral injury caused by dental work, brushing your teeth to hard or biting your cheek. In some cases, emotional stress, hormonal fluctuations and vitamin deficiencies are the culprit.
Are Home Remedies Available?
Practicing basic home care can ease your discomfort and speed healing. While the sores are present, try to avoid hot or spicy food that could irritate them further. It can also be helpful to rinse with a mild salt and water solution or mouthwash. However, it is important to avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol because they can increase irritation.
When Do I Need to See a Dentist?
While most canker sores are a mild problem that lasts only a few days to a week, there are sometimes severe cases that require professional care. For example, a sore that lasts for more than two weeks or the occurrence of sores more than three times a year should be assessed by an oral health professional. Your dentist will also need to know if you have mouth ulcers that occur with other symptoms such as a fever, skin rash or headaches.
Will Prescription Medication Help Me Heal Faster?
There are prescription medications that your dentist can give you to speed healing. For example, a chlorhexadine mouthwash can reduce bacteria in your mouth that can contribute to further irritation and infection. Corticosteroids may also be applied to the sore or prescribed in pill form to give your immune system a boost and clear
up the sores. Typically, these medications will only be necessary to take as long as the sores are present.
How Can I Prevent Future Sores From Occurring?
It is important to address the reasons why we get canker sores in the first place to prevent a recurrence. Begin by asking your dentist to show you how to brush your teeth using soft, gentle strokes that do not irritate your gums or cheeks. Flossing daily will help remove food particles that cause further irritation. It is also helpful to ensure you eat a healthy diet full of the vitamins and minerals you need for healthy teeth and gums such as vitamin C and iron.
Now that you have an understanding of why we get canker sores, you have the opportunity to prevent them by taking care of your oral health. As with any new oral issue, make sure to visit your dentist for an exam to ensure that every potential underlying cause has been addressed so you can avoid further discomfort in the future.