Mouth sores can be quite a pain, in more ways than one. They can be classified into two types of sores, canker sores, the more common ones, and cold sores.
Canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers, are small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in your mouth or at the base of your gums. Unlike cold sores, canker sores don’t occur on the surface of your lips and they aren’t contagious. They can be painful, however, and can make eating and talking difficult. Most canker sores go away on their own in a week or two. Check with your doctor or dentist if you have unusually large or painful canker sores or canker sores that don’t seem to heal.
Canker Sore Prevention
There are several types of canker sores – Major & Minor being the most common below:
Minor canker sores
Minor canker sores are the most common and:
- Are usually small
- Are oval shaped with a red edge
- Heal without scarring in one to two weeks
Major canker sores
Major canker sores are less common and:
- Are larger and deeper than minor canker sores
- Are usually round with defined borders, but may have irregular edges when very large
- Can be extremely painful
- May take up to six weeks to heal and can leave extensive scarring
Canker sores often recur, but you may be able to reduce their frequency by following these tips:
- Watch what you eat.Try to avoid foods that seem to irritate your mouth. These may include nuts, chips, pretzels, certain spices, salty foods and acidic fruits, such as pineapple, grapefruit and oranges. Avoid any foods to which you’re sensitive or allergic.
- Choose healthy foods.To help prevent nutritional deficiencies, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Follow good oral hygiene habits.Regular brushing after meals and flossing once a day can keep your mouth clean and free of foods that might trigger a sore. Use a soft brush to help prevent irritation to delicate mouth tissues, and avoid toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Protect your mouth.If you have braces or other dental appliances, ask your dentist about orthodontic waxes to cover sharp edges.
- Reduce your stress.If your canker sores seem to be related to stress, learn and use stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation and guided imagery.
Ask your doctor or dentist for advice on which may work best for you. Your doctor may prescribe a nutritional supplement if you consume low amounts of important nutrients, such as folate (folic acid), vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 or zinc. If your canker sores relate to a more serious health problem, your doctor will treat the underlying condition.