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Canker Sores: Causes and Solutions

Closeup portrait young woman with canker sore

Canker sores are more than just a mere nuisance. If left untreated, they could cause you pain and make eating food uncomfortable. If you have small ulcers inside your mouth or throat, it might be time to see your dentist or doctor. Here are some of the most common causes of canker sores — and how you can treat them.


What are Canker Sores?

Canker sores are small ulcers on the inside of your mouth or throat. They are a couple of millimeters in size and are usually white or gray and surrounded by a red border. People often confuse canker sores with blisters, cold sores, or even pimples.

"A canker sore is a type of mouth ulcer, known medically as an aphthous ulcer," says Medical News Today. "Canker sores are one of the most common complaints of the mouth. They can occur at any age but are more likely in younger adults and women."

Some of the symptoms associated with canker sores include a tingling sensation in your mouth. Typically, canker sores don't cause much pain and are a mere inconvenience. If left untreated, however, canker sores can become painful, inflamed and make it difficult to consume food and drink.


What Causes Canker Sores?

There are various factors that cause canker sores. These include stress, hormonal fluctuations, and vitamin deficiencies (particularly B-vitamins like niacin and folic acid). If you eat spicy or acidic foods, you might also develop canker sores.

"Your risk for developing canker sores increases if you have a family history of canker sores," says Healthline.

Certain food allergies can also cause canker sores.


How to Get Rid of Canker Sores

There are a number of home remedies that can get rid of canker sores. One of the most popular methods is baking soda, which works as an anti-inflammatory. Just mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and swish it around your mouth. Repeat this every day to reduce the discomfort associated with canker sores.

You can also apply an ice cube to your canker sores to improve healing and reduce inflammation. Just place an ice cube in a paper towel — putting an ice cube directly onto a canker sore might cause you discomfort — and gently hold it against the canker sore.

"If you’re experiencing throbbing pain or a burning sensation, then applying ice to your canker sore can help," says the Consumer Guide to Dentistry. "This method is particularly beneficial for canker sores on the lips. Other areas of the mouth may be more difficult to reach with an ice cube."

If these home remedies don't work, you might want to see your dentist. He or she will inspect your mouth, teeth, and gums and suggest a treatment based on your circumstances.

You should also avoid spicy or acidic foods or hot beverages until your canker sores heal.


When Do Canker Sores Become Serious?

Recurring canker sores affect around 20 percent of the American population, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. In most cases, canker sores are harmless. If left untreated, however, they could cause a wide range of conditions, including fatigue, fever, and swollen glands.


[RELATED: What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?]


Do you suffer from canker sores? Follow the home remedies on this list to reduce inflammation and discomfort, and see your dentist or doctor if the problem persists.

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