What Causes Canker Sores?

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What Causes Canker Sores?

Most adults will have a canker sore eventually. These small, painful mouth ulcers show up inside the cheek or lip, on the gum line, or under the tongue. They may appear alone or show up in groups. For many, canker sores are recurrent. Even though they are painful, they usually go away on their own in a week or two.

Are canker sores the same as cold sores?

A cold sore and a canker sore are not the same things. Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus. They are contagious. However, a canker sore is not contagious. Cold sores also appear on the lips or outside of the mouth. On the other hand, canker sores occur on the soft tissues inside the mouth and are not caused by a virus.

What causes a canker sore?

It is difficult to tell exactly what causes canker sores, but hereditary factors, stress, and injury are the most likely causes. In most cases, there is no way to determine the cause. However, for those who have them frequently, it can often be attributed to one of these causes.

Vitamin Deficiency

Canker sores seem to be more likely when there is a deficiency of vitamin B-12. This deficiency can be caused by not consuming enough fruits and vegetables. This is more likely in kids who have an aversion to them. Some studies have also indicated that canker sores can be triggered or caused by the lack of folic acid, iron, or zinc.

Stress or Injury

If the tissue in the mouth is injured, it can lead to a canker sore. It might be something as simple as hard brushing that causes tissue damage leading to the sores. Dentures or braces can rub soft tissue leading to the development of a sore. They are also often caused by accidentally biting the inside of the cheek or lip.

Acidic Foods

Citrus fruits, high in nutritional value, also have a lot of acid. Highly acidic fruits can cause or worsen a canker sore. In general, fruits like lemons, pineapples, or oranges may not directly be the cause. But if an area of tissue is already stressed, the area may react adversely to the acid and cause a sore to appear. When a canker sore is present, it’s best to avoid acidic foods like apples, figs, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Weakened Immune System

Having a weak immune system can make you more prone to sickness, infections, and canker sores. It is difficult to correlate the effect of a weak immune system with the development of canker sores. However, it is likely that when the immune system is not working up to par it will not be able to prevent or repair them quickly. It is also highly likely that gastrointestinal problems and other diseases may contribute to their development.

Can I prevent canker sores?

Dr. Stephen Petinge, DMD, offers a few tips for preventing canker sores. While it may not be possible to avoid them altogether, these tips may be helpful for reducing their frequency.

  •   Avoid chewing gum as it can irritate the mouth’s tissue.
  •   Avoid foods that may irritate the inside of the mouth, including spicy foods, citrus fruits, and acidic vegetables.
  •   Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  •   Brush after each meal and floss daily.

Talk to Your Saugus, MA Dentist About Preventing Canker Sores

Most of the time, canker sores go away in a week or so without any treatment. However, in some cases, you will want to schedule an appointment with Dr. Petinge. If the sores are unusually large, recurrent, or don’t heal on their own within two weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule a dental exam. If you are concerned about your dental health or canker sores, contact us today to make an appointment.