Canker Sores (cont.)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
In this Article
- Canker sores facts
- What are canker sores?
- What are symptoms and signs of canker sores?
- What are the causes of canker sores?
- Are canker sores the same as fever blisters?
- What is the treatment for canker sores?
- What kind of topical medications (gels or ointments) are available for canker sores?
- Can mouthwash solutions be used with canker sores?
- What oral medications are available to help canker sores?
- What should I do if I get canker sores frequently?
- Find a local Ear, Nose, & Throat Doctor in your town
What are symptoms and signs of canker sores?
Canker sores are painful sores inside the mouth. They may occur on the tongue, the lining of the cheeks, the gums, the inside of the lips, or the soft palate on the back of the roof of your mouth. Common symptoms of canker sores include the following:
- A burning, tingling, or prickling sensation, up to 24 hours before the sore appears
- Crater-like ulcers that are white, gray, or yellow in color, with a red border
- Sores are usually painful
- Difficulty speaking, eating, or swallowing
Less common symptoms that can also indicate a more serious underlying infection include
Contact your doctor or dentist if your canker sores are
- larger than usual,
- lasting more than three weeks,
- causing severe pain even after taking over-the-counter pain medication,
- causing difficulty drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated,
- accompanied by fever.
What are the causes of canker sores?
The cause of most canker sores is not well understood, and multiple factors may cause sores to appear. Some possible causes of canker sores include the following:
- Injury to the mouth may cause simple canker sores. Injury could be from vigorous tooth brushing, dental work, braces or dentures, or a sports accident.
- Acidic foods, including citrus fruits, may trigger a canker sore or make it worse.
- Food sensitivities or allergies (anything from highly acidic foods to chocolate and coffee)
- Diets low in vitamins B12, zinc, folate (folic acid), or iron
- Toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate
- Allergy to certain bacteria in the mouth
- Emotional stress
- Gastrointestinal tract diseases such as Celiac disease or Crohn's disease
- Autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus or Behçet's disease
Are canker sores the same thing as fever blisters?
No, canker sores are not the same thing as fever blisters (cold sores).
Canker sores occur inside the mouth and are not contagious. Fever blisters are infections caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), they mostly occur on the lips and outside of the mouth, and they are very contagious.
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