Canker Sores: Should You Worry?

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Painful and annoying, canker sores are not usually anything to worry about. However, when a sore appears in your mouth, it deserves your attention. To learn what a canker sore is and how they are treated, read more below.

What is a Canker Sore?

A canker sore is a small, shallow, and painful ulcer that forms inside the mouth, usually on the inside of the lips, cheeks, or tongue. It is a common condition that can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, injury to the mouth, and certain foods.

Are They Contagious?

No, the canker sore that suddenly popped up inside your mouth did not come from anyone else, and you won't pass it along to anyone either. It's easy to be confused when a sore appears in the mouth area. Many people assume that canker sores are just like fever blisters. However, they could not be more different. Fever blisters appear on the outside of your mouth — not on the inside. And fever blisters are contagious, although they are not usually dangerous.

Canker sores will heal in a week or so. However, they can be quite painful, making it difficult to eat, drink, or talk. Treatment is often focused on managing the symptoms and promoting healing.

Treating Canker Sores

Some treatment options for canker sores include:

Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help to alleviate the pain associated with canker sores.

Topical ointments: Over-the-counter ointments containing benzocaine or numbing agents can help to temporarily numb the area and provide relief from pain.

Mouth rinses: Mouth rinses containing an antimicrobial agent can help to reduce the risk of infection and promote healing.

Avoiding trigger foods: Certain foods such as citrus fruits, spicy or salty foods, and acidic foods can trigger or exacerbate canker sores, so it's important to avoid them if possible.

Treating underlying conditions: If canker sores are a recurring problem, it's important to look for underlying conditions that may be contributing to their development, such as a weakened immune system or nutritional deficiencies.

Laser therapy: If you are prone to canker sores, speak to your dentist about low-level laser therapy. Your dentist simply zaps the canker sore, and it goes away along with the pain. 

Be certain that you are dealing with a canker sore and nothing more serious, make an appointment and have it examined by your dentist.