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.
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For years, people have tried to make sure their families got enough fluoride, a mineral that protects teeth from decay. However, recent news has suggested that people may actually be getting too much fluoride. In fact, the incidences of over fluoridation have risen and more children are developing fluorosis – streaks or white spots on the teeth. Additionally, some research has suggested that fluoride may contribute to certain health issues. This information has caused a debate about the use of fluoride.
With the right amount of fluoride, teeth are protected against cavities. Flouride is integral in the re-mineralization of tooth enamel, which essentially reverses early decay. Having fluoride in drinking water has been considered the most effect public health measure to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health, particularly in rural areas. Problems only arise because people now get fluoride from other sources, including toothpaste, mouth rinses, and in the dentist’s office. For the first time in nearly 50 years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is recommending lower levels of fluoride in drinking water to protect against too much fluoride intake.
You can reduce the risk of over exposure to fluoride by:
- Avoiding fruity flavored toothpastes that encourage kids to swallow toothpaste
- Checking the fluoride levels in your area’s water supply
- Explaining to your children the importance of not ingesting toothpaste when they brush
- Keeping fluoride supplements away from kids to avoid accidental overdose
- Mixing infant formula with fluoride-free water
- Selecting a non-fluoridated toothpaste for children under age six
- Using only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when brushing
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