What Causes Canker Sores
No one knows exactly what causes canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers. Many factors are thought to put a person at risk for them. Diet may play a part. People whose diets are low in folic acid, vitamin B12, and iron seem to develop canker sores more often, as do people with food allergies.
Mouth injuries also seem to bring on canker sores. Sodium lauryl sulfate , an ingredient in many toothpastes and mouthwashes, has been linked to canker sores, and sometimes the sores can be a sign of an immune system problem.
Even emotional stress could be a factor. One study of college students showed that they had more canker sores during stressful periods, such as around exam time.
Causes Of Canker Sores
Ultimately, it isnt known why some people develop canker sores while others don’t. Some believe that predisposition to develop canker sores is hereditary while others believe certain factors influence how often someone gets them. A few suspected causes of canker sores include:
- Trauma to the mouth lining: Whether it’s biting your cheek, a cut from your braces, or brushing your teeth too hard, any of these can cause a mouth ulcer to form.
- Food sensitivity: Some ulcers are triggered by acidic foods found in citrus fruit, tomatoes, and even coffee.
- Vitamin deficiencies: Having low levels of B-12, folic acid, iron, or zinc may cause mouth ulcers.
- Kinds of toothpaste or mouthwash: Using toothpaste or mouthwash with sodium lauryl sulfate has been proven to irritate the mouth lining and gums.
- Hormonal changes: This can affect how blood flows to gum tissue, but also how the body responds to toxins. Women are more prone to develop oral health problems and canker sores due to hormonal fluctuations.
- Autoimmune disease: Conditions such as ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or Crohns Disease may cause the onset of canker sores.
What Is A Mouth Ulcer
A mouth ulcer is defined as an open sore on the skin inside your mouth . They often form as a reaction to either trauma or internal changes . The spot will usually be circular or oval, white or grey, and surrounded by a red edge.
Such oral ulcers can vary in both size and duration with the longest healing time lasting a couple of weeks. It is also possible to have more than one at a time, and they will almost always vary in colour, shape, and location. But remember, if your mouth ulcers are very painful or are lasting for over three weeks, see a dentist for further advice.
They are usually found on the inside of your lips, cheeks or tongue, and cannot be passed from one person to another. It is important to remember that most of the time, mouth ulcers are nothing to be concerned about. They may make eating, drinking, and brushing uncomfortable, but they will usually heal on their own. The initial pain that results from having an open sore in your mouth should go away within a couple of days and be completely healed within a week or two.
Many of the self-care methods recommended to help speed up the healing process can also be great for preventing mouth ulcerS.
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Different Types Of Mouth Ulcers
Aside from occasional occurrences, there are three main categories of mouth sore:
- Recurrent aphthous stomatitis
People with this condition get ulcers frequently perhaps three or six times a year. This may continue for several years before gradually disappearing. Sores are usually most painful in the days after they first develop.
There is nothing that can be done to cure this condition, but there are ways to manage discomfort during outbreaks, mostly involving symptomatic treatment and preventive care. These ulcers are thought to be somehow linked to the immune system.
- Giant ulcer
This kind of ulcer is quite rare but extremely painful. It presents as one or more lesions that can be anywhere from 1cm to 5cm in size. Healing can take a month or more, and the ulcer often leaves scarring.
- Miliary ulcer
Also relatively rare, this kind of ulcer appears as clusters of lesions. Several dozens may appear at once. They are very painful but benign and heal in one or two weeks.
Causes Of Canker Sores:
- Mouth trauma braces, ill-fitting dentures, sharp foods, etc.
- Use of NSAIDS
- Food sensitivities especially acidic or citrus foods
- Immune system problems
- Family history
- Common dental ingredients
But as it turns out, the main culprit behind your recurrent canker sores could be staring you right in the face every morning and evening when youre in the bathroom: your toothpaste.
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Allergens In Other Oral Care Products
Contact dermatitis of the mouth can also be caused by other oral and dental care products, including mouthwashes, chewing gums, and lipsticks or lip balms.
Metals used in dentistry that can cause contact dermatitis in the mouth include mercury, chromium, nickel, gold, cobalt, beryllium, and palladium.
When Should I See My Doctor
See your GP if you think you might have an ulcer related to a mouth infection.
Also, see your GP if your child develops severe mouth ulcers with symptoms of general illness like:
- weight loss, stomach pain, unexplained fevers
- blood or mucus in their stool
- neck stiffness and tiredness
- ulcers around the anus
This may indicate conditions such as coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Its also important to see your doctor or dentist for a mouth ulcer that lasts longer than 3 weeks and keeps coming back.
Although most mouth ulcers are harmless, a long-lasting mouth ulcer is sometimes a sign of mouth cancer. It’s best to get it checked.
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What Are Mouth Sores
Mouth sores are small, shallow lesions that manifest themselves on the soft tissues found in your mouth, including:
- The roof of your mouth
These unsightly lesions are normally white or yellowish in color and they are often round in shape with a red, inflamed border. A mouth sore is usually no bigger than a pea, but in some cases, they can be larger. There are two categories that mouth sores fall into: Simple and complex. The average person will have around three simple sores per year during young adulthood. Complex sores are less common and tend to occur when you have already had a mouth sorethey also tend to be bigger and more painful. While some mouth sores heal within a few weeks, others can last for up to six weekssometimes even longer!
Is It A Cold Sore Or A Canker Sore
Sometimes, its hard to determine whether you have a cold sore or a canker sore. Generally, canker sores do not appear on the outside of the lips or mouth. While both have the same triggers, canker sores arent contagious and there is no bacteria or virus associated with them unlike cold sores.
Also known as fever blisters, cold sores are fluid-filled sores that occur around the lips. Some people develop a fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, or fatigue when they have one. This is most likely due to the bacteria or virus that caused them. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are usually treated with prescription antivirals and rarely go away without treatment. If you think you have a cold sore, schedule an appointment to see your doctor.
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Where Do Mouth Sores Come From
No one has managed to pinpoint the exact cause of mouth sores, but there are several factors that will make you more susceptible to getting them. Here are just a few of the things you should consider if you are prone to mouth sores:
Acidic/spicy foods: Damages sensitive tissue in your mouth and causes irritation, leading to the formation of a sore. You may also be allergic to some foods, which also contribute to mouth sores.
Trauma and injury: If you have taken a blow to the mouth from sports or falling over then you could end up with a mouth sore. Braces can also cause enough irritation of the surrounding tissues in your mouth to cause a lesion to appear.
Hormones and stress: If you are incredibly stressed out and running yourself into the ground, you could be at risk of canker sores.
Medication: certain medications and aggressive medical treatment like chemotherapy can have an adverse effect on your mouth.
Smoking and drinking: tobacco and alcohol can cause lesions in the mouth and even mouth cancer!
Iron and vitamin deficiencies: if you suffer from anemia or low levels of zinc you will have a greater risk of mouth sores.
Eating disorders: Anorexia and malnutrition are also contributing factors to poor oral health and canker sores.
Here Is A List Of Home Remedies For Mouth Ulcers
Thanks to the antibacterial qualities of honey, it can act as a very effective remedy for ulcers. It provides moisture and prevents it from becoming dry. All you need to do is take some raw honey and apply it on the ulcers. You can also add some turmeric to it to speed up the healing process. Apply it every few hours for relief.
2. Coconut oil
Coconut oil helps in reducing the discomfort caused due to the ulcer by reducing the swelling. Anti-inflammatory compounds in coconut oil help in doing so. All you need to do is dab a cotton ball in some virgin coconut oil and apply it on your ulcers. Repeat this after every few hours. You can also apply coconut oil to ulcers and sleep with it.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Though the pungent taste and the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar can hurt you, this one is a powerful home remedy for ulcers. Just mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with half a cup of water and swish the solution in your mouth for a few minutes. Do this every morning and night till the ulcer heals.
4. Salt water
6. Fortified orange juice
The key purpose of this one is providing the body with vitamin C. As it has been stated before, ulcers are the result of Vitamin C deficiency this one can help meet the required needs. Drink two glasses of orange juice every day till the ulcer heals.
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What Is The Squigle Enamel Saver Toothpaste
Squigle Enamel Saver Toothpaste is your one-stop solution for all your oral problems. Made from natural ingredients from Birch and Beech trees, it’s gentle on your mouth.
It fights various bacteria and prevents plaque, cavities, bad breath and most importantly canker sores!
Right now, this toothpaste is ranked as the number one toothpaste for preventing and treating canker sores as it contains a very high level of Xylitol and no SLS.
Xylitol is known for discouraging the buildup of plaque which secretes acids leading to canker sores.
This particular toothpaste contains 36% xylitol which is higher than any other toothpaste in the world!
Another important thing is that it does not contain SLS which is known to causes micro tears in the mouth. This is one of the main reasons for canker sores.
How To Clean Your Teeth If You Have Gum Disease
Signs of gingivitis include bleeding gums, and you may have noticed this before you even went to see a dental professional. A complete explanation about gum disease and its causes is covered in our article on gum disease, but to recap, gingivitis is caused by bacteria not cleaned away thoroughly.
Left untreated, early gum disease will progress into periodontal disease, where bone is lost around the teeth and they may start to become loose.
The single most important thing you can do to reverse early gum disease, and to slow down progression of periodontal disease, is thorough cleaning. That includes:
- Brushing at least twice daily, for two minutes, using an electric toothbrush.
- Using interdental cleaning aids daily interdental brushes, floss, and water flosses are all options available.
- Supplementary mouthwashes with active ingredients to minimise bacteria in the mouth.
- Professional cleaning to help remove calculus to make cleaning easier at home.
A good cleaning technique, on a daily basis, wil help lessen the amount of gum disease causing bacteria in the mouth. And most of this benefit comes from the physical action of brushing and/or flossing etc.
What Are Canker Sores
Canker sores are a type of mouth ulcer. They are painful sores that appear on the inside of the mouthnamely, the inner lip, cheeks, gums, tongue, or palate. They can have a white or yellowish appearance with a red outer layer. Unlike cold sores, mouth ulcers are non-contagious and will generally heal without scarring in about a week or two. If you experience severe canker sores that do not get better, you can always consult with a medical doctor or dentist. These are some of the early signs and symptoms of canker sores:
- A tingling or burning sensation inside your mouth
- White or grey sores forming inside the mouth
- Feeling feverish
- Feeling physically unwell or sluggish
- Swollen lymph nodes
Oraltidepro Intensive Repair Gel
This toothpaste has been developed in Japan. I have listed it as one of the top 5, not for use as a daily toothpaste, but because it is a highly specialist regenerative gel. It is designed to be used just weekly.
Its benefits for the gums come from the peptides in the formula. The peptides also promote healing and reduce swelling in the gums, reversing gum disease. They also help the body to regenerate tissue, in theory helping to re-grow the gum. This is also useful for treating any ulcers or sore spots in your mouth.
The effect on the gums isnt instant though, and they advise that to see growth of gums you will need to use the gel at least 6 times.
Also be aware that even if scientific literature does point towards gum regrowth this may be in such small amounts that you cant visibly notice it day to day.
Whilst this gel is expensive, it is not used daily it and so it should last a while. It could be something that is useful to you in addition to good oral hygiene practices.
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Discuss With Your Dentist
Have your mouth ulcers been bothering you beyond three weeks? The cause of mouth ulcers can vary and there are many factors that can cause ulcers to remain in the mouth beyond three weeks.
According to the NHS stress, poorly fitted oral devices and health conditions such as IBD and Coeliac disease can all cause prolonged mouth ulcers.
Mouth ulcers can also be a symptom of mouth cancer, so for this reason, if your ulcers have not disappeared within three weeks it is important that you consult your dentist for guidance on how to best manage your symptoms.
Do you experience mouth ulcers from high-street toothpastes? Has changing to an SLS-free toothpaste helped? Let us know @GreenPeopleUK on social.
ABOUT GREEN PEOPLE
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Additional reporting to this story by Jennifer Nied
As a seasoned health writer, Jennifer Nied understands how vital quality product recommendations are for treating symptoms safely and effectively at home. For over 10 years, she has reviewed products, interviewed experts, scrutinized ingredients, and pored over research studies and claims, to help readers like you understand what works for your specific conditions. Every product in this piece was selected taking into account recommendations from doctors, published research, and real customer reviews.
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Is It Possible To Use A Whitening Toothpaste If You Have Gingivitis / Which One Is Best
Yes, it is possible to use a whitening toothpaste if you have gum disease.
Whitening toothpastes remove stains from the teeth, and are often more abrasive than a regular toothpaste. It doesnt actually whiten the overall colour of the teeth, as explained by Dr Chuahan in our article on the best whitening toothpastes.
But I should point out that this additional abrasiveness may cause further irritation to gums which are already sore and so you may want to avoid them.
Symptoms Of Cold Sores
On the other hand, if a person develops a cluster of small blisters that turn into a larger sore in the lip area, this may be a cold sore caused by the Herpes simplex virus. Since this type of mouth ulcer is caused by a virus, it is highly contagious. A cold sore may require a prescription of antiviral medication from a physician.
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Major Brand Toothpastes Linked To Oral Canker Sores
Most of us get a small annoying canker sore once or twice a year, which usually goes away in a week or so. But a small percentage of the population gets frequent outbreaks of painful cankers. While the exact cause of canker sores is still unknown. We do know that weather changes, stress, oral hygiene, citrus and spicy foods, can contribute to painful canker sores.
Poor oral health likely promotes formation of canker sores. The bacteria living in plaque build-up that accumulates on teeth can irritate soft tissue Keeping your teeth free from plaque and calculus build-up is important to prevent canker sores from forming. Seeing a dental professional routinely for a 6 month dental cleaning helps keep teeth free from plaque build-up.
A common toothpaste ingredient called Sodium lauryl sulfate can also cause canker sores. SLS is a soft tissue irritant thats also found in shampoo, soaps, and household cleaning products. Companies use it in toothpaste because it creates foaming action when we brush our teeth. Below are some some toothpastes without SLS to keep those pearly whites healthy.
- Toms of Maine toothpaste
- Burts Bee Natural Toothpaste
- Auromere SLS Free Herbal Toothpaste
- Rembrandt Premium Whitening Mint Toothpaste
- Cardamon-fennel Herbal Toothpaste
- Sensodyne ProNamel Mint Essense Toothpaste
- Hello Toothpaste
- Arm & Hammer Toothpaste