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Are you prone to small, painful sores in your mouth, that sometimes even start to tingle or burn even before they show up? Canker sores, or “aphthous ulcers” show up inside the mouth (lips, cheeks, tongue, gums and palate) and disappear within a few days or weeks. Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not contagious. They may be pale white or yellow and surrounded by a red outer ring. They might show up as a single sore or a group. It can take 2-3 days for sores to form and they can hurt for 3-10 days,before going away. Women seem to be more susceptible than men, and they can run in families.

No one knows exactly why they show up, but researchers believe it is combination of factors, even in the same person. Contributing factors for canker sores include:

–Emotional stress and hormonal changes.
–Allergic reaction to certain bacteria in the mouth.
–A compromised immune system (cold or flu, HIV/AIDS).
–Using toothpastes or mouthwashes with sodium lauryl sulfate.
–A vitamin or mineral deficiency (folate, iron, vitamin B-12, zinc).
–Minor injury to your mouth (dental work, brushing too hard, biting the cheek).
–Food sensitivities (eggs, nuts, cheese, chocolate, coffee, strawberries, spicy or acidic foods).

Even though you can’t really prevent canker sores per se, you can treat their symptoms. To help with the discomfort, eat plain, bland, non-spicy foods. To help soothe the discomfort, rinse your mouth often with warm water and use over-the-counter creams or ointments. For severe symptoms, you can be prescribed a mouth rinse with steroid dexamethasone, and large sores can be treated with steroid creams.

See your dentist if your canker sores are large, you are getting more sores than you have before–and more often–or if you are experiencing accompanying symptoms such as rashes, fever, diarrhea or joint pain. If you are deficient in vitamins and minerals, you may be prescribed vitamin B-6, B-12, folate, iron, or zinc to boost your immunity.

Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions or concerns. Our Summit Village Family Dental team is here for you! 816-287-5650.