Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Aphthous ulcers, commonly known canker sores, can be such a pain in the mouth. They are small, shallow lesions that appear on the soft tissues of the mouth or at the base of the gums. Canker sores, unlike cold sores, do not appear on the surface of your lips and are not communicable. However, they can be painful and make eating and speaking difficult.
The majority of canker sores heal on their own after a week or two. Some people are more prone to cankers, especially if they have a history of heavy antibiotic drug use or eat a diet that is very high in sugar and white flour products. Poor dental hygiene, stress, and diseases such as Crohn's disease may also lead to chronic canker sores.
If you have canker sores that will not heal, it is recommended to see a doctor to make sure there aren’t any underlying conditions that can be causing them.
Causes of Canker Sores
Canker sores can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:
- Dental work, aggressive brushing, sports mishaps, or an inadvertent cheek bite can all cause minor mouth injuries.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate-containing toothpastes and mouth rinses.
- Sensitivities to certain foods, such as chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, almonds, cheese, and spicy or acidic foods.
- Deficiency of vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron.
- A reaction to particular germs in your mouth that cause an allergic reaction.
- Peptic ulcers, caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.
- Hormonal changes that occur during menstruation.
- Emotional tension.
Canker sores can also be caused by a variety of ailments and diseases, including:
- Celiac disease, which is a dangerous intestinal ailment characterized by a gluten intolerance.
- Inflammatory bowel illnesses, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Behcet's illness, a rare inflammatory disease that affects the entire body, including the mouth.
- HIV/AIDS, which is caused by a defective immune system that attacks healthy cells, including in the mouth, instead of invaders like viruses and bacteria.
Prevention and Natural Solutions for Canker Sores
For many, prevention is the key, depending on what causes your canker sores. Here are some tips to keep those painful sores away.
- Keep an eye on what you eat. Avoid foods that you're sensitive or allergic to, as well as foods that irritate your mouth. Examples include nuts, chips, pretzels, some spices, salty foods, and acidic fruits like pineapple, grapefruit and oranges.
- Make healthy dietary choices. Consume enough of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to avoid nutritional deficits.
- Maintain proper dental hygiene. Brushing your teeth after meals and flossing once a day can help keep your mouth clean and clear of things that can cause a sore.
- Check your mouth. If you have braces or other dental appliances, ask your dentist about orthodontic waxes to conceal sharp edges.
- Relax and de-stress. If you suspect that your canker sores are caused by stress, learn and practice stress-reduction strategies like meditation or guided imagery.
- Balance acidity. Supplementation with calcium may help buffer the acid condition, as will Lactobacillus acidophilus powder or capsules. Acidophilus and other probiotics not only help normalize the bacterial flora in the large bowel, but also help make the body more alkaline.
- Sodium bicarbonate powder (baking soda) mixed with water is a very effective first aid remedy. This can be used as a mouth rinse as well as swallowed to help make the body more alkaline. Bicarbonate is a natural buffering compound manufactured by the body. A variety of commercial toothpastes containing sodium bicarbonate can be used instead of standard toothpastes high in fluoride and other chemicals. Avoid any toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Another very effective emergency remedy for canker sores is deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) lozenges, which can be dissolved slowly in the mouth several times daily for both pain relief and speeding the healing process.
- A quality multivitamin can help prevent nutrient deficiencies like vitamin B12, iron and folate, which have been linked to causing canker sores.
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