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Canker Sores or Apthous Ulcers, are a common type of mouth ulcer that shows as a painful open sore on the inner surface of the cheeks and lips, tongue, soft palate, and the base of the gums. They appear as having a white or yellow center surrounded by a bright red area and tend to last 10-14 days. They are a common problem and have no long term effect on our health. They are not cancerous and they are not the same as cold sores.
Canker Sores may be linked to a deficiency in the bodies immune system. Canker sores can be triggered in a variety of ways....these include emotional stress, vitamin deficiency(especially folic acid, vitamin B-12, or iron), menstrual periods, hormonal changes, or even food allergies.
The sores may also occur after an injury. These occasionally occur following dental work, aggressive tooth cleaning, or biting your cheek or tongue. Anyone can develop a canker sore but they tend to have some genetic link as they run in families and they occur in more women than men. It is believed about 20% of the population has suffered from a canker sore at one time or another.
Some remedies for cold sores are not eating spicy foods, which can cause a flare up of pain, using non-prescription creams that contain phenol, and taking anti-viral medications that can reduce the time the sore is visible. Mild, over-the-counter mouth washes or salt water rinses may help. In severe cases, a prescription may be required. This may include fluocinonide gel (Lidex) or chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash. Corticosteroids, a powerful anti-inflammatory, may also be used in rare cases. These medications however will not keep them from occurring.
The easiest home remedy is a mixture of one- half hydrogen peroxide and one-half water. Apply directly to the ulcer using a cotton swab. Then dab Milk of Magnesia on the sore 3-4 times per day. This will soothe the sore and may help it heal faster.
Avoid making contact with the sores when brushing or flossing. If pain relief is needed use a numbing agent topical cream.
Remember, Canker sores are not cancerous and will not ultimately lead to oral cancer. But, if you have a mouth ulcer lasting more that 10-14 days, you should see your dentist to rule out the possibility of oral cancer.