Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are ulcerated lesions or sores that develop inside the mouth. They appear most often on the inner cheeks and lips, tongue, the base of gums, and the roof of the mouth.

Contrary to popular belief, canker sores are not the same as cold sores which are caused by the herpes virus. At Yankee Valley Dental, we often get asked if canker sores are caused by poor dental hygiene. We address this question and recommend tips to prevent the onslaught of canker sores below.

What Causes Canker Sores?

Although the exact cause is unknown, there are several factors that can trigger the appearance of canker sores, including:

• Acidic or spicy foods and other food sensitivities like chocolate and coffee
• Dental work like braces or improperly fitted dentures
• Lack of vitamins and minerals such as iron, folic acid, zinc, and B12
• Hormonal changes
• Mouth injuries
• Underlying health conditions including nutritional and immune system problems

Healthy mouth tip: Rinse with warm water and avoid acidic, citrus, or spicy foods that are known to irritate canker sores.

Can You Prevent Canker Sores?

Canker sores are incurable and are recurrent, but there are certain steps you can take to reduce the frequency of their appearance. We recommend:

• Maintaining proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily
• Opting for a soft-bristled toothbrush
• Wearing a mouth guard during sports or any activity that may include a risk of mouth injury

When to see your dentist

Canker sores usually disappear on their own within 1-2 weeks, however, we recommend calling your dental office if it’s causing extreme discomfort or pain that’s accompanied with:

• Swollen lymph nodes
• A rash
• Diarrhea
• Fever
• Sluggishness

If any of these symptoms persist, one of our experienced dentists at Yankee Valley Dental can rule out any health issues and prescribe an over the counter medication or mouth rinse to ease the pain.

Good dental hygiene includes regular visits to your dentist for a professional cleaning and oral exam. For the best in dental care, choose Yankee Valley Dental for quality service and dental work.