Important Canker Sore Information
Canker sores are sores or lesions, that are usually found inside your mouth. Otherwise known as mouth ulcers, these painful sores can be found on your lips, gums, tongue or even your cheeks. One in five people will have a canker sore at some point in their lifetime. Canker sores are not the same type of sores as cold sores. Cold sores are usually found on the outside of your mouth. If you are speaking in medical terms, canker sores will be referred to as aphthous stomatitis or RAS.
People may experience three kinds of canker sores. Most of the sores are called minor aphthae or MiRAS canker sores. These sores are quite small, usually around five to nine millimeters and they heal naturally in around two weeks.
Major aphthae sores are less common and they make up only one out of ten canker sores outbreaks. They are almost 10 millimeters in size and they take longer than fourteen days to completely heal. This type of canker sore may also leave a scar and require treatment.
In five to ten percent of all cases, a person may experience a rare and large number of small canker sores. While this type of sore heals in around two weeks, new sores pop up continuously, which makes you feel like they will never go away. This type of canker sore is called herpetiform ulcers. They are named after the herpes simplex virus because they often look the same, although other than having a similar appearance, herpetiform ulcers do not have any similarities to the herpes simplex virus.
No one really understands what the cause of canker sores is. Some theories state that the sores form because of a mouth injury that is infected by bacteria. It is believed that the immune response is strong but the wound heals very slowly and is often irritated by foods or liquids. Normally, a mouth wound will heal quickly without you noticing it but if you suffer from a lot of stress or you have a nutritional deficiency, mouth injuries may become larger and develop into canker sores.
A second theory says that these sores are the result of a hyperactive immune system. The attacks of the immune system in the mouth lead to inflammation and damage that causes canker sores to develop.
Like many health conditions, people who have a genetic predisposition for canker sores will experience them more often. If you have genes like interleukins or a tumor necrosis factor, you may have more canker sores than people who do not carry these genes.
While most canker sores should heal naturally within a week, you may consider an ointment or mouthwash if your sores are very painful. Many canker sore treatments can be purchased over-the-counter. However, if your sores have not healed after several weeks of treatment, you may require a prescription medication and you should contact your doctor.
You should avoid foods that cause irritation when you have canker sores. Spicy foods as well as acidic foods can cause irritation to your mouth which may make the pain from canker sores worse. You should try to use a toothpaste that does not include sodium lauryl sulfate since this ingredient is a widely known irritant of canker sores and may contribute to the formation of new canker sores.
No one knows what causes canker sores, therefore it is difficult to know how to prevent them. As a general rule, try to ensure that you do not suffer from any nutritional deficiencies and try to figure out which foods and nutrients you need more of. Then you can decide whether to change your diet or take a supplement.
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