A canker sore is basically an ulcer of the mouth. Canker sores can appear on the tongue, throat and on the inner parts of the lips. They rarely pose a terminal health risk but can cause discomforts when eating and talking. They can also act as entry points for bacteria and other disease causing organisms. Canker sores are not contagious.
Canker sores are of three major distinctions. They are mostly classified depending on how long the sores last and their sizes.
- Simple/minor canker sores – They appear as round sores which may appear gray or yellowish in color. They range between 1/2 and 1/3 of an inch. When left alone, they will most likely heal on their own within 2 weeks.
- Complex/major canker sores – These type of canker sores are irregularly shaped and much larger than simple canker sores. They also are a bit more persistent. In people with low immunity, especially after treatment procedures and medications to cure cancer and HIV, complex canker sores are most common. They also tend to occur more in people who have suffered past attacks.
- Herpetiform canker sores – These ones are multiple sores, forming around an initial large canker sore. They generally are small in size and may last up to a month without treatment.
Canker sore causes and symptoms
Exact canker sore causes are not known. Minor canker sores are thought to be caused by physical injuries and stress. Injuries in the mouth can be caused by factors such as badly fitted dentures or even a irregularly-formed tooth. Food products that are of high acidity such as citrus fruits, pineapples and tomatoes have also been known to cause them.
Reduced immunity and deficiencies in some vitamins/minerals are potential major canker sore causes. So are disorders such as Crohn’s disease.
- A painful lesion or sore inside the mouth. Canker sores do not occur outside the mouth, no matter what some people believe.
- Oval/round shaped sores in the mouth that have a red or yellowish border
- Sores that cause a burning effect in the mouth before and after their development
- You may suffer a fever attack as the sores develop. This should however not be confused with cold sores. Cold sores will not attack the inside of the mouth like canker sores do
- In case of infected sores or multiple sores, the lymph nodes may swell. This is generally a natural response by the immune system to the canker sores attack.
Canker sore treatment with natural remedies
Some natural remedies that can be bought over the counter are sometimes used as canker sore treatment options. Care should however be taken when treating multiple and infected canker sores with over the counter or natural remedies. They include:
Aloe Vera has many medicinal applications, including skin bumps removal. If you can get the leaf itself, this is definitely recommended. All it requires is a direct application of the aloe gel on the sore several times a day. If you can’t access the natural leaf itself, there are over the counter gels containing the product.
Since canker sores are more irritated in the presence of acidity, tea bags can help in neutralizing it. Just place a damp one on the sore and leave it in position for 5 minutes, several times in a day. A good example is licorice tea.
Supplements and vitamins
Vitamins for canker sores include vitamin E and C. For instance, the contents inside a vitamin E capsule can be applied externally on the sore to fasten the healing process. Vitamin C is also known to aid in fast healing of wounds but taking it in fruits like oranges can irritate the sores. Zinc and L-Lysine supplements have also been used to treat canker sores.
Coriander is a notable antifungal as well as an anti-inflammatory. It can help reduce both the spread and the pain of a canker sore. The best approach to get the most out of the plant is to boil the leaves and the seeds separately. Mix the two solutions and rinse your mouth with it. The juice can also be swallowed for the anti-inflammatory properties to take effect.
Sodium chloride solution
This is just a longer name for salted water. It helps keep the canker sores dehydrated, which fastens the healing process. Salt water is sometimes used in plantar wart removal.
Honey is a notable canker sore remedy. It can be applied directly on the sore or mixed with turmeric powder. On its own, it will cause a slight burning sensation on the canker sore which is bound to disappear in a short while. Mixing it with turmeric powder requires you to mix them both in warm water and rinse your mouth with it.
This is a very powerful canker sore remedy especially in regards to treating painful or infected canker sores. It provides a relieving effect and also hastens the healing process. You can boil sage leaves in about 3 cups of water and rinse your mouth with the solution. You can also apply sage leaf powder directly to the sores.
Milk of magnesia
You can apply this product on the open sores or just rinse your mouth with its solution. It is an acid neutralizer and will prevent the sores from worsening. It is sometimes also used in the removal of a plantar wart on the foot.
In regards to how to treat canker sores, anti-acids generally work by neutralizing the acid that causes a burning sensation in the sores. Depending on which type of anti-acids you are using, different dosage guidelines will be provided.
When to see a doctor for canker sore medicine
Not even your doctor will prescribe specific canker sore medicine to cure the sores. In most cases, you will be prescribed medications that will either speed up the healing process or inhibit the spread of the sores by neutralizing the acidity in them.
The burning and tingling sensation felt on canker sores is caused by enzymatic actions as well as acidity occurring in the sores. If a canker sore remedy can succeed in reducing the acidity and keeping the sore dehydrated, the healing process can be sped up. See your doctor in the following circumstances:
- Multiple sores that have lasted over 3 or more weeks
- Very large and painful sores that will not respond to home remedies
- Sores that are infecting other parts of the mouth
- Sores that are causing difficulties in drinking and eating. This can lead to malnutrition and possible lowering of immunity
- Canker sores that are accompanied by severe fever attacks
- Very painful sores that are not showing signs of easing
How to get rid of canker sores with medications:
Prescribed canker sore medicine is not always necessary but can be of help in most cases. The available medications include:
You can buy them over the counter or have a doctor prescribe the best medication for you. They mainly help in relieving the pain caused by a canker sore or hastening the healing process.
Multiple canker sores are best treated with a mouth wash. Mouth rinses are usually a combination of several individual medications which generally work for the ultimate good. It is good that a doctor be the one to prescribe a particular mouth wash brand for you.
Medications such as the ones used to treat gastric ulcers are potential canker sore medicines. In fact, some oral steroids are also used for the same treatment. Again, you will need a doctor to guide you in how best to use these treatment options. They are best used when a severe canker sores attack has occurred.
In a hospital, some chemicals or instruments can be used to physically destroy the canker sores. They are pretty effective in cutting down on the duration it requires the sores to heal on their own.
How to prevent canker sore causes
Canker sores can be irritating. Since there is no specific cure for them, it is important to learn how to prevent them.
One of the main ways of how to prevent canker sores is to brush your teeth after meals.
This ensures that no food particles are left behind for bacteria to act upon. In the mouth, bacteria produce acids which are potential canker sore causes as well as tooth decay causes.
Foods such as pineapples and strawberries can cause canker sores. Since they also are of health benefits and should not be avoided entirely, just make sure that you do not take them in excess.
There are some brands of chewing gums that cause irritation to the mouth. Try avoiding them or not overdoing your use of them.
How to prevent the spread of canker sores
Before visiting a clinic, there are several measures that can help in reducing the spread of canker sores.
For example, rinsing your mouth with salt water or a baking soda solution can help. This should be done several times a day to keep the protective abilities of either solution potent.
It is best that you stay away from extremely spicy foods or acidic ones. In this direction, avoid sour fruits and hot spices.
Icing canker sores can reduce both pain and inflammation. Just place an ice chip on the sore and let it dissolve there. Additionally, avoid aggressive teeth brushing or using paste that forms a lot of foam.
A canker sore diagnosis only needs a doctor to look at the sore itself and he will be able to judge the best way to help. This can be done by a dentist or a general medical practitioner. All the same, you may be needed to provide details on when the symptoms started, the medications that you currently are on, supplements and vitamins for canker sores supplements, and another form of medication you may be using or had been recently using. Personal details such as any stressful events or abrupt lifestyle changes may also be of importance to the doctor.
By the end of the diagnosis, you will be able to determine whether you have canker sores or another form of mouth infections. You will also have several options open for you in regards to how to treat the sores and prevent further spread.
Canker sores are not cancerous or anything of that sort. They in fact will heal on their own, mostly after two weeks if the attack is not serious.
You are advised to maintain a healthy diet as well as avoid poor lifestyle habits such as smoking and alcohol abuse. Such habits are predisposing factors do immunity depriving infections like diabetes and cancer.
Just as it is when you need to remove anal skin tags, canker sores can be treated at home but only in some cases. For canker sores that won’t go away or are extremely intolerable, check with your doctor for further assistance.