Canker sores are also called aphthous ulcers and are ulcers that can be very uncomfortable. They can occur on the tongue, right at the back of your mouth, or inside your cheeks. There are two different types of canker sores that we see at our Leeds surgery, which are:
- Simple canker sores that occur two or three times a year and only last a week. This type is most commonly found in people aged between 10 and 20.
- Complex canker sores can be more problematic. They are less common and tend to occur in people who have had them before.
Causes of Canker Sores
The exact reason as to why canker sores appear isn’t really known, but it’s thought to be partly due to stress, or possibly to the oral tissues becoming injured. Some people find that certain types of foods can trigger an attack, or can make existing canker sores worse. These include acidic fruits and vegetables such as oranges and lemons, tomatoes and pineapples. The problem can also arise if you have an ill-fitting dental appliance such as a denture or an orthodontic brace.
Sometimes complex canker sores may be due to some other underlying health problem such as coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease, or having a compromised immune system. They may also be due to nutritional problems such as having a folic acid or iron deficiency, or being deficient in zinc or vitamin B-12.
Patients at Leeds City Dentalcare often ask if canker sores are the same thing as cold sores, and the answer is no as they are quite different. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are very contagious. They also occur outside the mouth, usually on the lips or on the central portion of the face. In contrast canker sores occur on the inside of the mouth.
Common symptoms of canker sores include:
- Noticing a burning or tingling sensation before the canker sore actually appears
- Developing a painful or sore area inside your mouth
- Developing sores that look white or grey in colour, and which may have a red border
Some people also feel feverish or sluggish, and their lymph nodes may swell up.
Getting Treatment for Canker Sores at Leads City Dentalcare
Most people find their canker sores will begin to clear up on their own after a few days, and will be completely gone within a week or two. However if you find your canker sores are persistent then you may want to make an appointment to see Dr David Brown or another dentist in Leeds surgery. We might be able to prescribe you something to help reduce the pain and irritation, and we may also prescribe an antimicrobial mouthwash.
You should definitely call our dentist Leeds for advice if you think your canker sores look especially large or that they are spreading. Contact us if you notice your sores last longer than three weeks, or if you’re finding the pain intolerable in spite of taking over-the-counter painkillers. We’ll also want to see you if you develop a high fever during an attack, or if you find you have difficulty in drinking sufficient fluids.
Reducing the Frequency of Canker Sores
There isn’t any known cure for canker sores, and many people do find they reoccur. However there may be some things you can try to help reduce their frequency. These include:
- Avoiding foods you think may trigger and attack such as spicy foods and acidic fruits and vegetables
- Avoiding chewing gum
- Using a soft bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth, and being sure toothbrush after meals and floss daily as this will help keep your teeth and gums free from food which might trigger an attack