Most people consider canker sores more of an annoyance than an actual medical problem. After all, most canker sores come and go within a week. But what are they? A canker sore is actually a small ulcer inside the mouth that makes eating and drinking uncomfortable. The technical term is an aphthous ulcer, and they are typically red with a circumference around less than one centimeter. Tiny, but they can be very, very annoying at times. A burning sensation in the mouth can be a tip that a canker sore is on the way. Women can also have them when menstrual periods occur.
Other symptoms of canker sores that one should be aware of aside from size, is color. As mentioned above, the sore begins as a small red bump, which bursts into a full-on sore. The typical full-strength sore will be white or yellow in the middle, and a healing one will most likely be in the process of turning gray. In more serious cases, malaise or fever may be a symptom. But that may also be a sign of bigger medical problems than just a non-contagious mouth sore.
It's a routine mouth malady that results from many things. Biting the inside of the mouth (something that happens frequently with someone who wears braces, for example) can bring on a canker sore. Sharp teeth that can scratch the inside of the mouth can also bring them on, as well as other uncomfortable dental appliances (braces and dentures). Other more serious medical issues can bring them on, as well. Vitamin B-12 deficiency and Crohn's disease are just two conditions that have canker sores as side effects. Always consult a doctor or dentist if there's a fever on top of a canker sore outbreak, or if the sore itself lasts a couple of weeks instead of just seven to 10 days.
As for minor canker sores, they're a common occurrence for young people, as the ages of 10 to 20 are when canker sores occur most often. That said, anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of people will have them in their lives. For those that have them as adults, there's more to canker sores than that annoyance sufferers feel. However, there's no major medical issue with a canker sore. It isn't cancerous at all, for one. Still, they can be a bother. Read on for quick and easy forms of canker sore treatment, if a week or so is too long to wait for the small ulcer to pass and normal service can resume.
What forms of canker sore treatment are out there for sufferers? There are many ways to treat canker sores so that a person can get through their day. There are quite a lot of home remedies that can minimize the discomfort of canker sores without spending the money one figures your typical medical treatment will cost. While it seems silly to say 'don't bite your mouth', there are other causes of canker sores that a person can eliminate from their day-to-day living without too much fuss. Most of these causes can be directly attributed to high acidic content, and eliminating that will help ease the ulcers through the body.
While there are those of us who love our fruits and vegetables, the high acidic content in many fruits has been generally accepted as a factor in people who have recurring canker sores. Fruits such as oranges, apples, pineapples, tomatoes and strawberries have high levels of acid. While everyone loves a glass of orange juice to start their morning, just be aware of the possible side effects. If canker sores are a frequent part of one's life, then it may be time to ease off the fruit for a bit. Another option to remove the acid is to cut back on gum chewing. As the gum typically builds up acid as one chews, having the acid splash around in the mouth can only bring on more canker sores. In that case, chew wisely.
When doctors say that people need to cut back on acidic content to ease the possibility of a canker sore outbreak, they weren't just talking about morning foods. Cutting out any type of spicy food can help eliminate the possibility of new sores. If you're fond of Indian food or buffalo wings, it’s difficult, but if canker sores are a frequent problem, then it's presumably a good idea, all things considered.
Another possible cause of a canker sore outbreak is strong toothbrush bristles. While some folks prefer to give their teeth a good, hard scrubbing every morning and after every meal, a softer toothbrush will help a great deal in removing food crumbs and bits that help cause canker sores. Combined with daily flossing, a good oral treatment every day will help keep canker sore outbreaks to a minimum. Of all the simple treatments one can get for the canker sore, this may be the simplest and easiest to implement.
So what of the people who can't bear to cut their fruit intake and like the tougher toothbrush bristles, yet still suffer from frequent canker sore outbreaks? There are quite a few home remedies recommended to take the sting out of canker sores. One of the simplest forms of home canker sore treatment is gargling salt water. The preferred amount of salt is half a teaspoon in eight ounces of water- measure in appropriate amounts to get the best results. This will help burn off the excess acid in the mouth and the ulcer itself.
Another home remedy to consider is the combination of one to two teaspoons of any over the counter antacid and half a teaspoon of liquid diphenhydramine (found in many over the counter cold remedies). It's recommended that this method be done a maximum of four times per day. Also, it's recommended that this mixture isn't swallowed or used with small children because of its toxicity. Be very careful, and make sure it's spit out once it's been gargled a few times. The uncomfortable nature of the canker sore isn't worth the danger of swallowing a toxic mixture.
Other methods to use are liquids with a numbing agent. While it's important to know that the canker sore is not typically dangerous, the little ulcer can still be quite painful to deal with. This method makes the pain dim and dull. But it doesn't help eliminate the ulcer; it just makes the day to day pain easy to deal with. For some people, that may well be enough. After all, what's a week to most? If the canker sore is larger than the typical size and lasts for longer than normal (say more than two weeks), always consult a doctor or dentist.
If the home remedies already mentioned aren't enough, there are over the counter methods designed to help from quality companies. One of the better and safer companies out there is TheraBreath and their line of products. The oral care company offers a line of products designed to ease the pain of canker sores and to make sure they don't return. TheraBreath offers products that do not have sodium lauryl sulfate, which is one of the triggers of canker sores since it slowly degrades the mouth's lining. Most commercial toothpastes contain this chemical just for its foaming action, and not any reason connected with actual oral care.
The company's brand of toothpaste (known simply as TheraBreath Toothpaste) lacks that chemical, and is inevitably stronger and better than typical toothpastes. If that's not enough, the company offers softer toothbrushes and a softer brand of mouthwash for any oral care needs. If oral care is important, then give TheraBreath products a try.
So, to refresh: canker sores are generally an annoyance, but can be emblematic of greater medical problems. Anxiety or stress are known as triggers for serious ulcers, and the mouth is no different than other areas in the body where ulcers occur. In these cases, it's wise to consult a doctor or dentist. There are plenty of home remedies and methods to ease the outbreaks. Plus, there are plenty of ways to cut back on the acid intake so that the sores aren't a frequent issue.
Fruits like apples and strawberries can trigger outbreaks, as well as constant gum chewing. Having a softer toothbrush can help as well, what with the food crumbs that get lodged in the teeth after eating. Flossing helps, as well as does cutting down on spicy foods for dinner and snacks. With these in mind, canker sore treatment can be done without much fuss and medical treatment. But if there are other issues, like a fever and general malaise, do take the time to consult the medical pros. They'll know what to do. The mouth will say thanks for the consideration.