When talking about this issue, one of the most important things to understand is that canker sores are a type of ulcer or open sore in the mouth, and they are very painful. Canker sores may be white or yellow, and usually are surrounded by a bright red area inside the mouth. They can appear because of viral infections, but in some cases it’s impossible to know the exact cause.
These ulcers may be linked to problems with the body’s immune (defense) system, because they usually appear after an injury to the mouth, like dental work or an accidental bite to the cheek or tongue. Keep reading to find out about the causes as well as how to treat and prevent canker sores.
Why do canker sores appear?
- Emotional stress.
- Lack of vitamins and some minerals in the diet. These include: iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12.
- Hormonal changes.
- Menstrual period.
Anyone can suffer from canker sores, be they male or female, although they’re more commonly seen in women and in certain cases can be hereditary.
The symptoms are…
- A red, painful spot that later becomes an ulcer.
- The ulcer is yellowish in color.
- Discomfort and sometimes fever.
Pain caused by canker sores can last between 7 to 10 days, even up to about 3 weeks, depending on the size of the ulcer.
How to prevent canker sores?One way to prevent these mouth sores is to get adequate vitamins and iron, which are found in foods that are rich in animal and vegetable proteins.
- Vitamin B2. A deficiency of this vitamin produces cracks in the corners of the mouth and skin. It can be found in bread, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and milk.
- Vitamin B3. Eating this vitamin helps us prevent oral diseases, as well. It is found in red and white meats, milk, dairy, and eggs, for example.
- Folic acid. The absence of this is associated with mouth sores, as well as the presence of anemia. However, ingesting folic acid in high doses can be harmful, so supplements should be recommended by a doctor.
- Vitamin B12. To get the required amount of this vitamin the consumption of animal products like seafood, meat, and dairy is recommended.
- Vitamin C. A deficiency of this vitamin won’t cause sores of the mouth, but can lead to bleeding gums. Foods that are rich in vitamin C are citrus fruits and other categories of fruits and vegetables.
- There are also two types of foods that are helpful; one group is probiotics and the other group includes foods that contain Omega 3. Both have anti-inflammatory effects, and in addition, a study at the University of Kentucky showed they have antibacterial potential. We can take advantage of foods that eaten alone have beneficial components, and avoid foods that have been enriched or modified. Foods containing natural probiotics are fresh yogurt and fermented milk products. Foods rich in Omega 3 include: fish, sunflower oil, and nuts.
If your daily diet is poor in nutrients, it’s likely that you will experience some of these sores, so it’s important to discuss some ways to alleviate the pain or discomfort they cause.
Although the American Dental Association says that in most cases these sores go away by themselves, there are options to speed up the healing process and relieve the symptoms.
- Certain types of mouthwash for canker sores are available in stores, but the milder ones are recommended.
- Use a homemade mouth rinse that’s easy to make with water mixed with salt, or baking soda.
- Another option is to mix water with hydrogen peroxide and apply it directly to the sore with a cotton ball.
All these things can be done as often as needed to promote faster healing.