If you suffer from canker sores, you are not alone. Fully 20% of the population has had some form of sores. Canker sores, also known as aphthae, are a form of mouth ulcers. They are easy to identify. They are small, white spots, often elevated from the surrounding skin, about the size of a pencil eraser. Many people get them when they have a sore or inflamed tooth. In this case, sores appear on the mouth of the wall opposite the afflicted area. Other sores happen apparently at random, appearing on the mouth walls, or often on the inside of the lip.
Types of Sores
The most common forms of sores are very mild. They can be a minor nuisance while eating or drinking. Many rarely notice them until they disappear after a few days. However, other sores can be severe, and cause debilitating effects on the sufferer. Sores that are very irritating, and do not heal after a few days may be a sign of mouth cancer.
Causes of Canker Sores
The underlying cause of these sores is not well understood. Physicians describe the condition as a T-cell immune response that can be initiated by a variety of factors. Some of the most common are:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Local trauma
- Hormonal influences
In addition, many sufferers get mouth sores as a result of a genetic predisposition. Unfortunately, canker sores are often caused by several factors at once, making it difficult to determine a prognosis.
Mild sores generally require no treatment at all, simply regular brushing. Sufferers can apply an in-mouth pain reliever, if necessary. Severe forms are more difficult to treat. Sufferers should work with their family physicians to determine the cause and prescribe the proper treatment.
Since canker sores are common, most people can take advantage of a prevention strategy in order to avoid problems in the first place. This is particularly true for persons whose parents or other close relatives suffer sores more than once a year. Some useful plans include the following:
- Analyze diet – people can work with a nutritionist to determine a balanced diet. Along this line, people can take a daily multivitamin. This multivitamin can be tailored for special situations, including pregnancy, stress, or those over 50 years of age. Those on a weight loss diet, particularly one emphasizing a certain type of food group, must be very careful to get proper nutrition.
- Deal with mouth trauma – those with toothaches, a broken tooth, or a gum problem can prevent canker sores by dealing with the problem quickly. This can involve an emergency trip to the dentist. It may also require a course of antibiotics.
- Relieve general stress – stress causes many problems, some much more serious than mouth ulcers. Individuals with high stress lifestyles should make a regular self-examination to control the stress factors in their lives.
- Test hormone levels – a physician may order a hormone balance test, to find if this may be a factor for mouth sores and other problems.
- Allergy tests – frequently recurring sores may be due to an allergy. Doctors can refer sufferers to a specialist for proper testing.
- Refer persistent sores to a doctor – sores lasting more than 7-10 days are classified as persistent. Sufferers should see a doctor immediately to test for mouth cancer and other serious problems.
By going through these steps, people can avoid the irritation of canker sores and potential avoid even more serious problems.