They are uncomfortable, annoying, and often painful, and most of us have experienced them at least once. Canker sores are shallow sores in the mouth that are usually red or in some cases may have a white coating over them. But the main questions are what causes them and how to treat them?
The exact causes of canker sores are not clearly defined. Simple canker sores are thought to be a result of stress or tissue injury. In some cases, the culprits tend to be certain foods, mostly citrus and/or acidic fruits and vegetables. They can also be triggered by stress, fatigue, hormones or facial trauma. In cases of complex canker sores, the cause is usually an underlying health condition, most often an issue with the immune system or nutritional problems.
Canker Sores are not Cold Sores
Even though they are often confused between each other, canker sores and cold sores are two totally different conditions. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, and unlike canker sores, they are very contagious. They are also located on and around the lips, primarily outside of the mouth, while canker sores appear inside the mouth and on the gums. Visually they differ significantly, cold sores being red, fluid-filled blisters, typically showing up in groups.
Canker sores will usually heal on their own within a week or two. In more complex cases visiting your dentist would be a good idea. They may prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse or a corticosteroid ointment, and in cases of more severe pain they can write a prescription or give an over-the-counter solution to reduce the pain and irritation.