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Canker Sore Symptoms

by Emily Ness
  • Overview

    Canker Sore Symptoms
    Canker Sore Symptoms
    Canker sores often begin as a tingling sensation on the inside of the mouth and develop into a round and painful lesion. Most disappear naturally within a week. Some, however, are more severe and can cause fevers or more serious problems. Contact your doctor if a major sore does not disappear within a month.
  • Types

    Minor canker sores are the most common type. They are oval, about 1/3-inch wide and, although painful, usually clear up within three to 14 days. Major canker sores are deep ulcers bigger than 1 cm wide. They can last for weeks, months or even years and often heal with extensive scarring. Herpetiform sores consist of many tiny lesions that can merge into one large ulcer. The lesions are pinhead-size and can last a week to a month.
  • Identification

    Canker sores are often confused with cold sores, or fever blisters. Canker sores develop inside your mouth, but cold sores appear on your lips or skin outside the mouth.
  • Prevention/Solution

    To prevent canker sores, your doctor may suggest choosing healthy foods that do not irritate the lining of your mouth and following good oral hygiene habits like flossing once a day and using a soft toothbrush that won't irritate your mouth. If you have braces, use a wax covering to prevent injury to the inside of your mouth. Treatments are not usually necessary for a minor canker sore, because it will clear up in about a week. For a severe case, your doctors may prescribe mouth rinses, pastes, oral medication or nutritional supplements (if you are deficient in vitamins). Alternative drug-free solutions include zinc lozenges, large doses of vitamin C and B, probiotics and alum applied directly to the sore.
  • Theories/Speculation

    According to EmedicineHealth.com, experts do not know the cause of canker sores. But many speculate that they result from an immune-system reaction. Other potential causes include bacterial infection; hormonal disorders or shifts during menstruation; stress; mouth injury; heredity; anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen; food allergies; toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate; deficiencies of iron, folic acid or vitamin B12; and HIV/AIDS. Recurrent canker sores have been associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease. Diseases of the intestine like celiac sprue, caused by a sensitivity to gluten, has also been associated with canker sores.
  • Misconceptions

    Canker sores are not a type of herpes infection, which is a common misconception.

    References & Resources