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So, You Have Another Canker Sore: Understanding And Treating Pesky Mouth Ulcers

Waking up to a white or gray sore on your cheek or gums is never fun. These little sores may not look like much, but they sure do hurt. Most people just wait out their canker sores, knowing that eventually they will get better. However, knowing a bit more about what causes these sores and how to treat them can help you secure relief more quickly and effectively.

What causes canker sores?

There's a common myth than canker sores are caused by the herpes virus. However, this is not the case. The herpes virus causes cold sores, which are a specific, pimple-like kind of sore that has a scabbed, crusted look. Canker sores, which are flat, ulcer-like spots with a white center and redness around the edges, are not caused by herpes. Instead, they have several other possible causes:

Trauma to the mouth tissues: Biting your cheek or hitting your mouth against something can cause a canker sore to form after the soft tissue on your cheek or gums becomes damaged. Some people with braces experience canker sores if the wires on those braces dig into their gums.

Viral infection: It is thought that some viruses, such as the common cold virus, can cause the immune system to weaken and mistakenly attack its own tissues, forming a canker sore.

Hormonal changes: In some women, hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle or pregnancy may cause canker sores to form.

Stress: When the body is under a lot of stress, the immune system may react negatively, attacking some of its own tissues and causing a canker sore.

How are canker sores treated?

There are several ways to ease the pain of a canker sore so that you can eat and go about your normal life more comfortably. Drugstores typically carry spray-on or rub-on anesthetics that will numb the area for a few hours. Make sure you purchase one that specifically states it is safe for oral use. Rinsing the mouth with an antimicrobial mouthwash is also helpful since it will prevent a secondary bacterial infection from developing and making the problem worse.

To heal canker sores more quickly, also make sure you are avoiding hot and spicy foods, which may irritate the sores. Get plenty of rest, so your body can focus on healing. If your canker sore does not subside on its own within a few days, contact your dentist. He or she can use laser therapy to stimulate the area and encourage faster healing. You may also have a secondary bacterial infection, for which your dentist can prescribe antibiotics. Continue reading more about how a dentist can help with oral issues like this.

How can you decrease the occurrence of canker sores?

If you're someone who gets canker sores easily, it is important to identify the possible causes of your frequent canker sores so you can address them and prevent future sores from forming rather than just treating the sores as they appear.

Do you have braces or another orthodontic device? Tell your dentist about your problems with canker sores. He or she may be able to adjust the device so it does not rub so much or show you how to better apply wax to any sharp points so the braces do not cause so much trauma.

If you're a woman who develops canker sores at a certain time in your cycle, talking to your doctor about hormone treatments or birth control is wise, as this should stop some of the hormonal fluctuation.

Perhaps frequent colds or immune deficiency are contributing to your sores? Take a multivitamin to boost your immune system, start getting more rest, and visit your doctor to make sure there is not an underlying problem with your immune system that is contributing to your frequent illness.

A canker sore may be small, but it is a major annoyance. Take action today by treating your sores and identifying their likely cause.