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Person with a Canker Sores on their lip

Canker Sores: Identifying, Treating, and Getting Help

Many of us have felt the discomfort of a small, circle sore on the inside of our lips. These irritating blemishes are commonly known as canker sores--scientifically known as recurring aphthous ulcers. They seem to crop up out of nowhere, cause stinging discomfort, and may prompt a trip to your Valencia dentist if they’re large and persistent. Today, we’re going to talk about the causes, remedies, and dangers of canker sores so you know when it’s time to visit your Valencia dentists.

What Causes Canker Sores?

The first question on everyone’s mind when they start feeling the sting of a canker sore is, “Why?” The truth is, we still haven’t pinned down the exact cause of canker sores. However, we do know of a few contributing factors. These include:

  • Stress.
  • Deficiencies in iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12.
  • Certain drugs.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Physical trauma to the lips or gums.

What Are the Symptoms of Canker Sores?

It’s easy to recognize when your mouth is in pain, but it’s not always a simple task to investigate and identify the source of the pain. The following are the telltale traits of canker sores:

  • These sores are typically no larger than a centimeter across and have a defined circular or ovular shape.
  • They typically develop within the front part of the mouth, on the inside of the lip, under the front or sides of the tongue, or (rarely) directly on the gums.
  • If you can get a good look with a light source, canker sores are typically white or pale yellow in color and have a red outline.

How Can I Treat a Canker Sore?

Unfortunately, the best medicine for a canker sore is time. Oftentimes, these sores take roughly a week to diminish, and up to two weeks to fully disappear. That being said, there are a few techniques you can employ at home to make the process less painful:

  • Do not pick at the sore. Try your best to avoid irritating the sore, as this will cause it to become inflamed, which only promotes more discomfort.
  • Try swishing over-the-counter mouthwash or salt water. In either case, do not swallow after swishing.
  • Avoid spicy foods, as these can aggravate the canker sore.

When Should I See a Dentist?

If you have a canker sore that is showing no signs of subsiding (or is getting worse) after two weeks, be sure to make an appointment with your local family dentist. Also, if your canker sore is very irregularly shaped or is much larger than a centimeter across, make an appointment with your Valencia dentist.

As always, we recommend erring on the safe side and, if you’re not sure whether your ailment is serious, take the safe route and visit your dentist anyway. At Go Dental, we’re here to answer questions and love helping our patients understand!