Canker sores are the most frequent type of mouth ulcer. They are little white or yellow ulcers that occur in the mouth and are not transmissible. They often heal within a week to three weeks, but in rare instances, they can take up to a month to six weeks to heal.
It’s not clear what causes them, but they’re not life-threatening. Canker sores can affect anyone. However, they are more prevalent in women than in men. They are also a hereditary condition.
What Are Canker Sores?
Canker sores are also known as aphthous ulcers and can only be found in the mouth, such as the cheeks, under the tongue, and the lips.
A single sore is common, but it can also appear in small clusters. They are typically white or yellow in color and are lined by red, inflamed soft tissue.
The good news is that they typically go away on their own without any need for medical treatment.
What Are the Three Types of Canker Sores?
Canker sores are classified into three types. A single one of these can show up at any time, not sequentially.
Minor Canker Sores
Minor Canker Sores account for about 80% of all cases and are the most common. Simple canker sores are another name for them. Although the size can vary slightly, they are generally between 1/3 and 1/2 inches in length.
It is not uncommon for a minor canker sore to heal within two weeks. A minor mouth injury or being chronically stressed and fatigued can cause them to appear on their own.
Major Canker Sores
Major Canker Sores, also known as complex canker sore, account for 15% of all cases. Unlike minor canker sores, major canker sores are more likely to have asymmetrical shapes. They generally last for more than two weeks are and are larger than 1/2 inch in size.
Immunosuppression, such as chemotherapy or HIV can lead to major canker sores. This type, though rare, can cause scarring.
Herpetiform Canker Sores
Herpetiform Canker Sores tend to show up later in life, and no one knows what causes them. Additionally, 5% of this type of canker sore diagnosis are herpetiform canker sores. Canker sores of the herpetiform type can last anywhere from a few days to a month.
There are usually numerous pinhead-sized lesions present, and this type frequently merges into a single large sore from a cluster of smaller ones. While this type may resemble a herpes outbreak, it is not caused by the herpes virus.
What Are Simple and Complex Canker Sores?
Canker sores are sometimes classified into two categories. Simple canker sores, which occur three or four times a year and stay for up to a week, are the most common form. Furthermore, the majority of people who acquire simple canker sores do so between the ages of ten and twenty years old.
Meanwhile, complex canker sores are less prevalent, more painful, and larger than simple canker sores. People who have had them before are more likely to get them again.
Complex canker sores are generally caused by an underlying ailment, such as a damaged immune system, Crohn’s disease, or vitamin deficiency. However, it is possible that they may leave a noticeable scar and last for up to a month.
What Causes Canker Sores?
While the precise cause is still unknown, it is believed to be due to an immune system failure in which white blood cells attack the mucosal cells lining the mouth for a brief period of time. In some cases, they might be an allergic response to food, toothpaste, or mouthwash. Crohn’s disease and dietary deficiency have been linked to canker sores in various studies.
What Are the Symptoms of Canker Sores?
Sores on the tongue, soft palate, or inside your cheeks are just a few of the usual signs of a canker sore. It is possible to experience some tingling, prickling, or burning sensations before the lesion appears. Finally, you may get some white or gray sores in your mouth with a red border.
In more severe cases, you may also have fever, sluggishness, and inflamed lymph nodes.
Do Canker Sores Heal by Themselves?
Most will heal on their own within a few days to a few weeks without the need for medical treatment. However, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve discomfort while you wait for it to go away completely.
Limiting your consumption of spicy and acidic meals is one of the things you can do while waiting for the canker sore to heal. Items that are difficult to eat and might be irritating to the mouth can aggravate the canker sore and cause it to worsen or take longer to heal.
When Should You Call a Dentist if You Have Canker Sores?
Even though most will go away on their own, you should see a dentist in some cases. Some sores tend to be larger and more painful, and deeper lesions might be more difficult to heal and are more susceptible to infection.
Canker sores should be treated by a dentist if they are unbearable and over-the-counter drugs fail to alleviate the pain. Sores that return regularly make it difficult to swallow or consume or produce fever and swelling should be examined by a dentist.
How Does a Dentist Diagnose Canker Sores?
A physical exam by a dentist usually suffices to determine a diagnosis. In addition, your blood may be tested to determine if you are deficient in a vitamin or have another medical condition that is causing them.
Cancerous lesions might also manifest as canker sores. They do not, however, heal on their own. Oral cancer symptoms include painful ulceration and swelling in the neck. This is similar to the symptoms of a canker sore.
What Are Some Home Remedies for Canker Sore?
Consider the following home remedy suggestions in order to alleviate discomfort and expedite healing:
- Baking soda – rinse your mouth with half a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of baking soda.
- Salt – similar to baking soda, use half a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of salt to rinse your mouth.
- Milk of Magnesia – apply a small amount of milk of magnesia to the area.
- Honey – apply some honey in the area up to 4 times daily.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water. Using a cotton swab or cotton ball, apply the mixture to your canker sore many times a day.
How Long Do Canker Sores Take to Heal?
This may take anywhere from seven to ten days, depending on the severity of the lesion. Healing times for both minor and severe canker sores vary greatly.
The healing time for minor canker sores ranges from one to three weeks, whereas large canker sores can take up to six weeks. Canker sores might reappear after the original one has healed in some people.
How Can You Prevent Canker Sores?
You can decrease the frequency with which your canker sores return by following these suggestions:
- Keep an eye on what you eat. As much as possible, avoid eating foods that may cause irritation in your mouth. This includes acidic and abrasive foods.
- If you have a vitamin deficiency, eat a well-balanced and healthy meal to ensure that you are getting all of the vitamins and nutrition your body needs.
- Good dental hygiene is essential for avoiding the onset of a sore. Brush your teeth and gums gently.
- Avoid exhaustion by lowering your stress levels and getting enough sleep.
What Happens if Canker Sores Are Left Untreated?
While a canker sore can be left untreated and will heal on its own, a lesion that doesn’t appear to be healing after a few weeks or appears to be growing worse should be immediately evaluated by a dentist or doctor. The lesions may be more serious than a canker sore.
Consulting with your medical provider as soon as possible helps you get an accurate diagnosis. If the lesion is precancerous or malignant, an early diagnosis leads to earlier treatment and, potentially, a better prognosis.
An erythroplakia, a white or red area on the inside of the mouth, is an example of a sore that doesn’t heal. Those lesions are particularly concerning since some of them may be malignant or precancerous.
Is It Common to Have Canker Sores During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women are more likely to develop canker sores or mouth ulcers. During pregnancy, they can cause discomfort, but they are not dangerous. It’s unclear what causes pregnancy-related mouth ulcers. However, various hypotheses have been put forth.
Canker sores on the lips, inside the cheeks, or on the tongue may be partly caused by the fluctuation of the hormones during pregnancy. Moreover, they can also be caused by physical damage or stress. Various factors can cause pregnancy-related oral ulcers, but this is the most prevalent.
They may also be caused by food allergies, especially acidic and spicy meals. Vitamin B12 deficiency may likewise lead to them, as does a lack of folate and iron. Finally, they can be caused by stress, a weakened immune system, tobacco use, or fractured teeth or dentures.
How Do I Get Rid of Canker Sores in 24 Hours?
It is possible to get rid of canker sores within 24 hours by gargling an 8-ounce glass of water with a teaspoon of baking soda. The lesion’s pain and discomfort will be alleviated as well.
In addition, studies have shown that an oral patch treatment for canker sores can completely eliminate most canker sores within 24 hours. An adhesive patch is applied to the sore, and it sticks instantly and produces an eight- to 12-hour-long protective “seal.” Eating will not cause it to fall off.
Does Mouthwash Help Canker Sores?
Canker sores can be soothed with an antimicrobial mouthwash, such as one containing chlorhexidine. Detoxing the region by using mouthwash reduces the bacteria that might irritate a sore, making it less likely to flare up again.
The components list of a canker sore mouthwash should include hydrogen peroxide. Nevertheless, make sure that the mouthwash contains no more than 3% hydrogen peroxide, as this can trigger an allergic reaction in certain people.
Your canker sores may get worse if you use a mouthwash that contains alcohol, so be careful. In order to choose a canker sore mouthwash, use products that indicate on the label expressly that they are made for them.
Can Canker Sores Increase the Risk of STI Transmission?
There is no risk of contracting herpes from someone who has a canker sore because it is not caused by the herpes virus. However, suppose the individual that is performing oral sex has a canker sore in their mouth and comes into direct touch with their partner’s semen, vaginal secretions, or blood. In that case, they risk catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from them.
Can Canker Sore Trigger Herpes?
Herpes is not spread via canker sores. Despite their superficial similarity, they are unrelated. However, an individual with herpes and infect another.
Cold sores or “fever blisters” are a symptom of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection, which is why they are commonly referred to as oral herpes. They are frequently confused for canker sores and vice versa. Unlike canker sores, this oral lesion is contagious.
Can Canker Sores Cause Sore Throat?
Having a canker sore on your tonsil can be excruciatingly painful, resulting in a persistent sore throat. It’s even been misdiagnosed as strep throat or tonsillitis in some cases.
Even though they are different, canker sores on your tonsils can have symptoms quite similar to those of a sore throat. You may notice that your tonsils are swollen, and you may ascribe the pain to a common cold, virus, tonsillitis, or strep infection.
If you peek down the back of your throat, you might be able to see the sore, depending on where it is.
Will Hydrogen Peroxide Help a Canker Sore?
Canker sores can be treated with hydrogen peroxide. Using a solution of half hydrogen peroxide and half water and gently dabbing it on the lesion will help decrease pain and speed healing. You can follow it up with some Milk of Magnesia, but make sure you don’t swallow the solution.
Applying this solution can be repeated three or four times daily. Because hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic, it may lessen the number of bacteria in the area around your canker sore. In addition, Milk of Magnesia functions as a pain reliever and may speed up the healing process.
Does Coffee Cause Canker Sores?
As a result of coffee’s acidity, which ranges from 4.85 to 5.10 on average, it has the potential to be a canker sore trigger or cause. In addition, coffee contains a high quantity of salicylic acid, which can cause irritation in the mouth and the development of canker sores.
Additionally, when you have a canker sore, it is advised to avoid hot beverages such as hot coffee as they can aggravate the lesion.
There is no denying that canker sores are painful, and they can cause a significant amount of trouble for a few weeks. If you’re prone to them, it’s a good idea to take an honest look at your lifestyle and identify what triggers them so you can make some adjustments and adopt better habits. Canker sores are not life-threatening, but it is best to talk with your doctor if they do not go away after a few weeks.