Canker sores begin with a tingling sensation and develop into small shallow ulcers on the inside of the mouth. Particularly severe attacks can be accompanied by fever and a general feeling of being unwell. It’s not known exactly what causes canker sores, but it’s thought they could be linked to stress, or injury to the soft tissues of the mouth. Sometimes certain foods may trigger an attack, particularly those that are spicy or acidic. Canker sores can also be caused by a dental appliance that has a sharp edge, or even a sharp broken tooth.
It’s possible for certain types of canker sores to be caused by an underlying health condition, for example having an impaired immune system or through being deficient in certain vitamins. People with celiac disease and Crohn’s disease may also be more prone towards developing canker sores.
Canker sores generally heal up without having any treatment. However if your canker sores are particularly persistent your dentist may prescribe medication to help reduce the pain, or a corticosteroid ointment or antimicrobial month rinse. Laser treatment can be helpful in reducing the severity of canker sores, but can only be used when the area first starts to tingle, before the sores have developed. It might also be worth trying to identify anything that might trigger an outbreak. It can help to:
- Visit your dentist to check you don’t have any sharp edges on your teeth and that any dental appliances are fitting properly.
- Avoid foods that might be irritating your mouth, in particular spicy foods and acidic fruits and vegetables.
- Brush your teeth after each meal as this can help remove particles of foods that could trigger an attack.
- Avoid chewing gum in case this irritates the inside of your mouth.
You should always contact your dentist if the sores last for longer than three weeks, if they seem to be spreading, or are causing a lot of pain.