Have you ever wondered what causes canker sores? Many medical professionals have the same question. While a firm cause has never been established, many contributing factors can increase the risk of their development.
What Is a Canker Sore?
A canker sore is a common, uncomfortable ulcer on the inside of the mouth. The tissues affected become red and inflamed, and you may see a white or yellow membrane on the surface. Simple sores generally cause discomfort for about a week, heal within three weeks and only appear a few times each year. Those with a history of canker sores are more likely to develop complex versions, which may take longer to heal.
Canker sores are thought to be linked to the state of your immune system. If you have recently been stricken with any virus or infection or are undergoing a period of extreme mental and emotional stress, development may be more likely. In addition, women usually develop these sores more frequently than men, as hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle are thought to play a role in the development of these sores as well. Since the sores are most often noticed in the 10-20-year-old age group, hormones in developing teens and young adults most likely have an influence on the likelihood of these ulcers emerging.
Other common catalysts are an injury to the soft tissues of the mouth; a lack of vitamins such as B-12, folic acid or iron; an allergic reaction to food; or bacteria.
How Can You Speed the Healing Process?
Canker sores usually heal without any medical assistance, but you can make your oral health a priority by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth to rid your mouth of bacteria and ensure an ideal environment for bacterial balance. Mouthwash and salt water are also helpful remedies to both relieve pain and cleanse the mouth of lingering bacteria that may inhibit the healing process.
When Should You Call the Dentist?
If the canker sores you are experiencing are larger than normal and accompanied by other medical conditions such as a rash, headache, fever or intestinal complications, contact your primary care doctor or your dentist for professional, personalized advice. Also, if the sore refuses to heal for weeks, schedule an appointment with your dentist for a thorough examination of the infection site. Professionals can determine the potential root cause and diagnose remedies to assist in the healing process, such as the addition of certain fruits and vegetables to a diet.
The staff at Oak Hills Dental, a friendly team of professionals who provide the high-quality care you deserve, can show you how to reduce your risk of developing canker sores.