Canker sores have nothing to do with how diligent you are at keeping a clean mouth. And they have little to do with what you eat (although there’s talk of a connection to citrus and other acidic foods). They’re also not caused by accidentally biting the inside of your lip — a common occurrence when you’re talking while eating.
In fact the jury is still out on what exactly causes them, but what we do know, is that the immune system is attacking the skin in your mouth for some unknown reason. Cankers or Aphthous Ulcers, are actually little ulcers in your mouth. Many people associate ulcers with something internal, like in the stomach, but they can occur anywhere on your body. ‘Ulcer’ is the word for an open sore that fails to heal.
The worst is when someone mistakes your canker sore for a cold sore — a more serious (and more embarrassing) situation. First, canker sores are generally found in the mouth, while cold sores are primarily found around the mouth, (although there are conditions where you can get cold sores in your mouth but we can leave that for another blog). Another difference is their makeup. A cold sore is a highly contagious condition, as the sores are filled with virus-riddled fluid. A canker sore is the opposite: it’s an open wound versus a closed sac, and it’s not contagious at all.
There’s not much you can do to avoid canker sores, and there’s very little you can do to treat one once you have it. They usually last seven to fourteen days, heal without scaring, and are only uncomfortable when you make them angry, like exposing it to acidic foods or continue to accidentally bite it (good luck with that).
If your canker sore is particularly large, you can treat it with an antimicrobial rinse you can find at the pharmacy, or even a corticosteroid ointment. If that doesn’t work, and especially if the canker sore gets worse, book an appointment and we’ll see what we can do about that stupid canker sore.