Canker Sore

Overview

Canker sores – known medically as aphthous stomatitis – are small painful lesions on the soft tissues of the mouth. Though these lesions are often mistaken for cold sores, they are quite different. While cold sores form around the lips, are contagious and are caused by the herpes simplex virus, canker sores form on the gums, back of the throat, tongue or insides of the cheeks and are not contagious. These small ulcerations are benign, but can be painful. The sores can be treated, but will generally clear on their own in about ten days.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

There are three types of canker sores, and each has its own symptoms. The most common canker sores are minor sores. These lesions are small and appear round or oval in shape. While there may be a mild stinging or burning sensation, these usually heal on their own in about ten days. Herpetiform canker sores also heal in about ten days, but rather than a regular round shape, these sores appear irregularly shaped and in clusters. Major canker sores are less common, but often far more painful. These sores are larger and deeper with an irregular shape. These may take a month or more to heal and frequently leave scars.

There are no tests to diagnose canker sores. A visual examination by a physician or dentist can identify the sores. Generally sores go away on their own, but in some cases canker sores recur frequently or fail to heal well. In these cases, further testing may be done to identify underlying heath issues that may have an affect on these ulcers.

Causes

There is no single known cause for canker sores. Rather, there are a myriad of possible triggers including mouth injury, a reaction to sodium lauryl sulfate in oral care products, food sensitivity or celiac disease, a poor diet, vitamin deficiency, allergic reactions, stress, hormonal fluctuations, bacteria or a compromised immune system. Anyone can be affected by canker sores, but females and those with a family history of canker sores are most likely to develop this condition. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment information . . .

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