Canker sores, mouth ulcers, oral lesions and recurrent apthous ulceration are names that describe small lesions appearing in the mouth. They can be quite painful, but unlike cold sores, cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
Canker sores small lesions, they can be round or oval, having a white center with a red edge around it. They develop only inside the mouth: on the gums, inside the cheeks and lips and on the tongue. There are three types of sores:
- Minor or simple sores are the most common type of sores. They occur in people between 10 and 20 years of age and appear three to four times a year. The sores measure from 3mm to 10mm in diameter and last for 10 to 14 days.
- Major or complex sores are less common. They occur often in people who have already had them. They can be quite larger and deeper than the simple sores, with a diameter greater than 10mm, with irregular edges. They may take weeks and even months to heal.
- Herpetiform sores consist of large groups of 2 mm to 3 mm sores, but there can be as much as 100 ulcers in one group.
On the other hand, cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus so they are contagious. Unlike canker sores, they appear as rashes and blister only on the outside of the mouth, around the lips and under the nose. They typically appear on the same spot each time and the blister heal in two to four weeks.
Scientists have not yet identified the exact cause of canker sores, but a number of different factors have been known to lead to the onset or worsen the condition.
Hot and spicy food, vegetables and fruit containing citric acid such as lemons, oranges, apples and tomatoes, heredity, shift in levels of hormones, stress, menstrual cycle, vitamin and mineral deficiency and injury to the mouth are known to be the cause or aggravate the existing sores.
Canker sores heal on their own in a couple of weeks even without treatment, but your doctor can prescribe you topical creams, mouth rinses and over-the-counter pills to help relieve the pain and discomfort.
Any mouthwash containing hydrogen peroxide is a go to solution for mouth sores. It acts as a strong antiseptic, killing the harmful bacteria in your mouth and thereby reducing the swelling and inflammation. Mix it in equal parts with water, swish it around the mouth for about a minute and rinse well with water. You can do this three to four times a day, or after meals.
Salt and water mixture can also be used as a mouthwash which has good antibacterial properties. Like with peroxide, mix it with water, swish it inside the mouth for a minute and spit it out. Again, rinse with a little water.
Your doctor can prescribe oral medication such containing ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Both compounds are good for relieving pain and reducing inflammation and can be bought over-the-counter.
Try to avoid spicy, hot or crunchy foods, as they can trigger an onset or increase the time needed the ulcers to heal. You may invest in a toothbrush with soft bristles and toothpaste that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which has been linked to the appearance of canker sores. If the sores persist for longer than two weeks, schedule an appointment with your dentist or a doctor, the sores may be a part of an underlying condition.