We use our mouths so frequently and depend upon them so completely each and every day that even the smallest discomforts can be incredibly inconvenient and irritating. We often find that we are less able to tolerate these discomforts than if they were located elsewhere on our body, and are often less informed about their causes and solutions. Maintaining good oral health, which includes adhering to a healthy diet, treating any physical health conditions that arise and establishing and maintaining good oral hygiene habits, is essential to protecting one against and reducing mouth irritations and lesions.
Mouth irritations and lesions include any swelling, spots or sores that occur in your mouth, including your inner cheeks, gums, tongue and your lips. These irritations and lesions can come in many different shapes and forms, and can range from mildly uncomfortable to incredibly painful. Canker sores are one of the four most common types of mouth irritations, the others being cold sores, leukoplakia and candidiasis (also known as thrush). While most individuals resign themselves to simply suffering through canker sores, better understanding them may help you to reduce the discomfort they bring and perhaps even prevent frequent recurrences.
Canker Sore Basics
Canker sores are one of several oral conditions that can be incredibly uncomfortable and unpleasant to deal with because a slight twinge of discomfort can quickly become a sharp sting of pain that makes it difficult to eat, talk or even smile. Fortunately, you can work to resolve canker sores when they do occur, so that you experience minimal discomfort for a reduced period of time.
Canker sores are often confused with cold sores, but there are a few key differences. Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus, which is contagious, while canker sores are not contagious. They may look similar as they begin to form, but canker sores have a distinctive white center surrounded by redness while cold sores are painful, fluid-filled blisters. Furthermore, canker sores always occur inside the mouth and cold sores normally occur outside of the mouth–especially around the lips and under the nose.
Canker sores are fairly common, and they can recur frequently. They can be small or large, alone or in clusters. The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but immune system issues, bacteria, viruses, stress, trauma, allergies, cigarette smoking, menstruation, Lupus, genetics, fatigue, chemotherapy, HIV, Crohn’s disease, and vitamin deficiencies may be contributing factors. Teens, young adults and women tend to suffer from canker sores more frequently than others.
Treating Canker Sores
Most canker sores heal on their own within 7 to 10 days, but they are treatable by laser within 48 hours of onset. If you are experiencing a canker sore, call Avenue Dental Arts immediately to schedule an appointment. The treatment is pain free, making numbing unnecessary, and it significantly cuts down on the healing time. Laser treatment works 90% of the time, so occasionally, laser treatment may require a second visit. If your canker sore hasn’t subsided within 48 hours, please get in touch with Dr. Saferin for another treatment.
If you’ve ever experienced a canker sore, you are well aware of the discomfort they can cause during that period of time. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce this discomfort, including:
- Using topical ointments or pain relievers.
- Rinsing with antimicrobial mouthwashes to clear away food particles, bacteria and other irritating debris.
- Avoiding spicy, acidic and hot foods that can aggravate the condition.
- Maintaining strict oral hygiene habits, including brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, but doing so with care.
- Resolving whatever condition triggered the outbreak, if you know what it is.
If you experience a canker sore, or any other mouth irritation, that lasts for longer than a week, is more than half an inch wide, grows progressively worse quickly, or is accompanied by other physical health symptoms like diarrhea, joint pain, rashes or fever, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. She will perform an examination and determine if further medical care is necessary. In some cases mouth irritations–even apparently minor ones like canker sores–may need to be treated with medication, antibiotics or surgery.
For more information about canker sores, including how to prevent and resolve them, contact Dr. Saferin today.