Mouth sores are a common problem that can affect just about anyone at any time. Also known as canker sores and aphthous ulcers, they’re small and painful wounds that can appear in your mouth or right at the base of your gums. Although mouth sores normally go away after a week or two, they can make daily activities like talking, eating, and drinking really difficult. Large and more painful mouth sores may even be a sign of a deeper and more severe health problem.
What Causes Mouth Sores?
Doctors and researchers haven’t pinpointed an exact cause of mouth sores just yet. However, there are several factors that can increase your chances of getting painful canker sores. Some common causes include:
- Tissue injuries from sharp objects, sports or work-related accidents, hard and thorough brushing, or accidentally biting your cheek.
- Sensitivities to spicy or acidic food, as well as coffee, chocolate, strawberries, nuts, eggs, and cheese, as well as citric fruits like oranges and lemons.
- Injuries from stray brace wires or brackets
- Hormonal changes during menstruation
- Allergies to certain toothpastes, mouthwashes, food, bacteria, or medication
- Ulcer-causing bacteria (also known as Helicobacter pylori), as well as fungi and viral infections.
- A vitamin-poor diet
Certain diseases may also increase your risk of mouth sores. Some health problems that can cause canker sores include:
- HIV/AIDS and other health conditions that weaken the immune system
- Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and other gastrointestinal disorders
- Behcet's disease, a rare condition that often causes severely inflamed blood vessels.
- Viral and bacterial infections that cause your immune system to attack healthy cells
- Problems with Vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid, and iron intake
- Diabetes mellitus
What Are The Symptoms?
Mouth sores aren’t too hard to spot since they have a distinctive appearance. They tend to be round or oval in shape with a bright red border and a pale, white or yellow center. You might feel a slight sting or burning sensation one or two days before these sores show up in your mouth or on your lips.
After canker sores manage to surface you’ll have to deal with some pain inside your mouth, as well as on your tongue or cheeks. If these sores turn severe, you may end up with long-lasting sores, severe pain, swollen lymph nodes, fever, and fatigue. In that case, it might be best to consult a doctor right away.
Types of Canker Sores
Canker sores come mainly in three types: minor, major, and herpetiform.
Minor Canker Sores: Minor canker sores often begin in childhood and usually show up around three or four times in a year. These sores are smaller than 1 centimeter and can heal on their own without any scarring after around a week.
Major Canker Sores: Although these are less common than minor mouth sores, they can cause quite a bit of trouble. Major sores are larger and deeper than smaller, minor sores. Although most of these sores are round, some may have unusually shaped edges. These tend to be quite painful and may take up to six weeks to heal. Even after these sores have healed, you may have to deal with some scarring afterwards.
Herpetiform Canker Sores: These sores tend to occur in clusters of 10 to a hundred, although they can merge into a large ulcer later on. They’re around the size of a pen or pencil point with irregularly-shaped edges. These can usually heal after around one or two weeks without any serious scarring.
Treating Mouth Sores at Home
Although mouth sores can go away on their own after a week or two, you might need to reduce pain, swelling, and discomfort to continue doing daily activities. There are some steps you can take to heal your mouth sores much faster, such as:
- Taking prescribed painkillers, medicines, and lozenges
- Brushing with a soft and non-abrasive toothbrush
- Avoiding toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulphate
- Sticking to cool, soft, and mild-flavored food and beverages while the ulcer is healing
- Avoiding coffee and other hot drinks, and using a straw
Preventing Mouth Sores
Although you can’t always avoid a sudden case of mouth sores, you can lower your chances through healthy daily habits. One of the best ways to avoid painful canker sores is to enhance your diet with vitamin rich food and to steer clear of anything that can cause an allergic reaction. It also helps to avoid acidic fruits, as well as too much hot or spicy food. If you have problems with your vitamin intake, taking multivitamins is a great solution.
It’s also important to avoid injuries while at work or play. Use a mouth guard when sparring or playing team sports, and try to avoid activities that are particularly strenuous or risky. You can also lower your risk of accidental bites by chewing carefully and avoiding talking or opening your mouth too much while eating. Reducing stress through meditative or therapeutic activities will also ensure that you don’t face any problems with more sores later on.
Practicing careful and proper oral hygiene is another great way to prevent mouth sores. Brush thoroughly with a soft-bristled toothbrush to get rid of bacteria-ridden food debris without damaging tooth enamel. Be sure to floss afterwards to remove any crumbs or bacteria stuck between your teeth. If you have braces, ask about waxes that can cover stray wires or thick brackets.
Another great way to prevent painful mouth sores is to use a top-quality dental scaler. Meeteasy’s dental scaler is specially designed to eliminate food debris, plaque, and bacteria from all corners of your teeth. No matter how much you eat or drink, your teeth are sure to be clean and bacteria-free when you clean with a good dental scaler after brushing. Buy your own dental scaler from our online store to enjoy effective oral hygiene right away!