What is a Canker Sore?
Canker Sores (Apthous Ulcers)
Occur only inside the mouth and the inner side of the lips. They occur only on the soft fragile lining of the cheeks, lips, soft palate (far back roof of the mouth), and tongue. They do not occur on the firm gum tissue or the firm roof of the mouth.
They are round or oval, have a white center, and a deep red halo around the edge. They usually heal in 7-14 days, but can last 4 weeks. Often more than one canker sore can form in the mouth. They are not contagious, they are not a virus.
The cause of canker sores is not really known. What we do know is that there are certain things that tend to "trigger" outbreaks of canker sores. Trauma from lip biting, sharp objects in the mouth like chips or nails (nailbiters you know who you are), and stress are definite factors. Many different foods have been associated with canker sores including but not limited to: chocolate, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. Less common ones include nuts, vinegar, soy, apples, mustard, spicy foods, dairy products. Each person will have a different cause.
However, the most common cause may be a common ingredient found in a number of toothpastes known as SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is the detergent responsible for the foaming of the paste.
If you suffer from recurrent canker sores you may want to consider first using a non-SLS toothpaste, like Oral-B/Rembrandt's Canker Sore reducing toothpaste.
"So, I've got a canker sore, now what?"
Here are a few canker sore remedies recommended for minor canker sores according to dentistry.about.com:
At-home treatment for minor canker sores include:
- Saltwater Solution and Sodium Bicarbonate - Mix 1 teaspoon salt with one cup warm water. Swish the solution in your mouth for 30 seconds, then expectorate (spit) the solution out of your mouth. In addition to salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may be added to the saline solution as well. Create a paste by mixing baking soda with small drops of water until a thick consistency has resulted. Use this paste to cover the canker sores, which will help relieve pain. These methods may be repeated as often as needed. Saline and sodium bicarbonate both help the mouth heal quickly by gently reducing the alkalinity and bacteria in the mouth.
- Hydrogen Peroxide Solution - Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with one part water. Use a cotton swab to dab the solution directly onto the canker sores. Do not swallow the solution. Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that will help reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
- Milk of Magnesia - Used frequently as an aide to relieve constipation and as an antacid, milk of magnesia is a liquid suspension of magnesium hydroxide. Dab milk of magnesia directly onto the canker sores with a cotton swab, three to four times a day. This method is recommended after using the hydrogen peroxide solution. Milk of magnesia will help reduce the pain and help speed the healing process.
- Liquid Antihistamine - Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may be used as an oral rinse by mixing one part milk of magnesia and one part diphenhydramine together. Rinse with the solution for one minute, then fully spit out the solution. Take care to avoid swallowing this mixture.
- Over-The-Counter Oral Care Products and Mouth Rinse - Available in most dental care sections, antiseptic mouth rinses contain ingredients intended to help heal mouth sores by reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Oral care products that are manufactured to numb painful areas in the mouth are also useful when treating canker sores. Products such as gels, paste, and rinses that are specifically marketed for mouth sores may provide pain relief and help speed the healing process. It is important that you follow the manufacturers' instructions closely when using over-the-counter products.