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  • Writer's pictureUlrich Orthodontics

The Truth About Canker Sores

We've all had them. Those nasty little sores that pop up in your mouth making it painful to eat, drink and sometimes even talk. But what are they? What causes them? How do we treat them when they begin, and prevent them from even starting? The California Association of Orthodontists has provided us with some very helpful information on this issue!

What are they?

Canker sores are small, lesions, often shallow near or on the lips, cheeks, tongue, gums and sometimes even the roof of the mouth. They are often painful for 1-2 weeks, but are not contagious. If you are prone to them, it is possible to pass dental caries onto infants through saliva, but not specific sores themselves.

What causes canker sores?

There are five main causes of canker sores:

  1. Braces - Orthodontic appliances can rub the gums, cheeks and lips, opening a site for a canker sore. Using orthodontic wax can help protect sensitive areas. If you get repeat canker sores in one area, be sure to discuss it with your orthodontist.

  2. Acidic foods - Citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, and even sour candy can cause canker sores if consumed in too much quantity or frequency.

  3. Stress - Stress knocks down our immune systems, making us more susceptible to infections. Stress in the stomach can also cause stomach acid to regurgitate up into the mouth which can contribute to sores.

  4. Illness - When we're sick our bodies are prone to a myriad of other issues. If you have been vomiting, the acid from your stomach can cause sores. Too much vitamin C from trying to ward off illness can also cause sores.

  5. Injury to the mouth - From being hit in the mouth, biting the cheeks and lips intentionally or accidentally chomping down while eating, trauma to the soft tissues in the mouth can also cause canker sores.

How do I treat a canker sore?

There is no sure way to rid of a canker sore once it's begun, however there are some different behaviors you can practice to shorten the duration of the sore and the pain that accompanies the ailment. Sores themselves last 1-2 weeks. Rinsing with warm salt water can be helpful, as can pain medications and topical medications that numb the area.

How can I prevent canker sores?

There are a variety of ways to prevent canker sores from starting. Taking a vitamin supplement with B12 boosts the body's immune response. Lysine has been known to help with prevention as well when taken as a sore is beginning. Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet like spinach, parsley, kale and carrots, as well as dairy like yogurt, and protein like salmon are great to help ward off sores.

If canker sores are problematic for you, especially if you have braces, be sure to reach out to our friendly team for ideas as to how we can help you.

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