Approximately 1 in 5 people in the population have had canker sores.

Differing from cold sores, aphthous ulcers (canker sores) only appear in the inside of the mouth, and are not contagious.

This type of sore can often be recognized by their oval shape with a red border. They usually have a gray, white or yellow center. Though very painful, most canker sores will disappear on their own (without treatment) in a day or weeks.

Possible causes of canker sores

Though doctors aren’t totally certain what causes canker sores to appear, heredity is believed to be a factor. Women are affected almost twice as much as men by these sores and they tend to afflict those who are 10–20 years old. They often show up at the location of mouth injuries, and connections have been identified between canker sores and stress. Links have been discovered between canker sores and sodium lauryl sulfate, an ingredient found in some types of toothpaste, as well. Finally, canker sores might be an indicator of an immune system issue.

Canker sores come in three types. While the majority of occurrences are minor canker sores, there are also major and herpetiform canker sores. The Mayo Clinic has more to read about these types on their page on canker sores.

Treatment options

No medical treatment is typically required if you are suffering from a minor canker sore. There are a couple of actions you can take to reduce additional pain, though.
– Refrain from eating spicy foods as well as those that might be scratchy or hard. These will irritate the wound.
– Don’t brush the wound with your toothbrush, and use a toothpaste that doesn’t have SLS.

How to avoid getting a canker sore

– Keep away from types of foods that irritate your mouth.
– Be sure to get proper nutrition—avoid vitamin deficiency
– Defend your mouth against injury and orthodontic wax can help with braces.
– Reduce stress.

If you’re suffering from a canker sore that hasn’t healed after a long time or is unusually large or especially painful, call Dr. Godat, Dr. Craddock, or your doctor.