Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to Treat Canker Sores

Nobody likes getting canker sores, but unfortunately, they are a common condition. Even if you practice good oral hygiene, you will likely get a canker sore at least once or twice in your life. Fortunately, they are fairly easy to treat.

Canker sores are small, shallow ulcers in the mouth that can cause discomfort and pain when eating, drinking or brushing your teeth. They can be caused by a variety of factors, but there is no definite way to know how a canker sore develops. Tissue injury is thought to be the most common cause, while acidic foods (citrus fruits, figs, tomatoes, etc.) are thought to trigger or worsen the condition. If you have braces or dentures that aren't fitted quite right, you could experience canker sores due to the friction of the dental work against your mouth surface.

Symptoms of a canker sore include a small, painful area within the mouth, a tingling or burning sensation prior to the sore first appearing and, in the case of severe canker sore attacks, fever and swollen lymph nodes. Contrary to what some believe, cold sores and canker sores are not the same thing. Cold sores, also known as fever blisters or herpes simplex type 1, are fluid-filled blisters. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are caused by a virus and are very contagious.

Most canker sores will heal on their own after about a week, but to treat the pain and discomfort, a variety of over-the-counter products are available in most drug stores. If you experience canker sores that last longer than a week, seem to be getting worse, or are experiencing other medical symptoms, you should contact us at 919-782-0548.  We may prescribe a special mouth rinse or ointment to treat the sore.

Here are a few suggestions to avoid canker sores:

  • Stay away from foods and drinks that irritate your mouth, including acidic fruits and veggies or spicy foods.
  • Brush and floss after meals to keep your mouth free of debris that could cause a sore to develop.
  • Use a soft-bristled tooth brush to minimize gum irritation.

Make sure any dental apparatus you use is well-fitted and does not cause irritation to your gums, cheeks or soft palate (the back portion of the roof of your mouth).

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