What Causes Canker Sores?
One common form of mouth ulcer is often referred to as a canker sore. They take the form of lesions and most commonly show up on the inner portions of the mouth, such at the lip area, cheeks, gums, or even the tongue. Nearly 20% of the population will develop a canker sore at some period in their lives. Such sores are actually different from the more commonly known cold sore. Cold sores typically develop on the outside area of the mouth or lips.
It should be noted that there are actually three different kinds of canker sores that a person can develop. Approximately 80% of such sores are about the diameter of a common pea, or between 5 and 9 mm. These sores will usually heal entirely inside of 2 weeks, and no treatment will be necessary. These types of canker sores are referred to as minor aphthae. There is another type of sore that grows in size to roughly 10 mm, and these are referred to as major apthae. Accounting for about 10-15% of all canker sores that develop, and they can take more than 2 weeks to heal over, and the often leave scars of various sizes in their wake. Approximately 5-10% of canker sores actually branch off and create a series of smaller ones that are about the size of a pen head, or even as big as a sesame seed. These smaller sores usually heal entirely within 2 weeks of forming, but not before new sores begin to develop in their week.
This creates a sensation of having a continuous canker sore, and they are referred to as herpetiform ulcers. Each of the three types of canker sores discussed here can result in little to extreme pain. It often depends on the pain threshold inherent in each individual.
Interestingly enough, what causes canker sores is not that well known. There is one possible theory that they begin from what is termed a mucosal injury, and this subsequently results in some type of microbe infection developing. When this occurs, there is a hyper immune system response mechanism that kicks in, and the wound heals much slower than normal. Whenever the mouth encounters some type of injury, it is often the result of friction at the hands of food other various objects that enter the mouth itself. Such injuries are often very small and they can heal without the individual even noticing that they are there. When the body is undergoing a period of stress, however, or an individual is lacking certain nutrients, then these small injuries can actually develop into larger lesions and then canker sores themselves.
One other theory as to the cause of canker sores is that they come at the hands of a hyperactive immune system within affected individuals. The inflammatory response that results from such a reaction can actually lead to tissue damage that is uncontrollable. This will often result in the formation of canker sores within the region of the mouth.