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Canker Sores

Canker Sores

What is a Canker Sore? 

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in your mouth or at the base of your gums. Unlike cold sores, canker sores don’t occur on the surface of your lips and aren’t contagious. They can be painful, making it difficult to eat, drink, and speak. While the exact cause of canker sores is still unknown, several factors can trigger their development, including minor oral injury, stress, acidic fruits, and dietary deficiencies. 

Canker Sore Causes and Symptoms 


  • Minor oral injury from dental work, hard brushing, sports accidents, or accidental cheek bite. 
  • Food sensitivities to acidic fruits like oranges, lemons, or tomatoes. 
  • Vitamin deficiencies, particularly B-12, zinc, folate, and iron. 
  • Allergic response to certain bacteria in the mouth. 
  • Hormonal shifts during menstruation. 
  • Emotional stress. 


  • A painful sore or sores inside the mouth — on the tongue, soft palate, or inside your cheeks. 
  • A tingling or burning sensation prior to the sore’s appearance. 
  • Sores in your mouth that are round, white, or gray in color, with a red edge or border. 

Treatment and Prevention 

While canker sores typically heal without treatment in one to two weeks, severe or unusually large sores may require medical attention. Treatments can include mouth rinses, topical products, oral medications, cautery of sores, and nutritional supplements. 

Preventive measures include avoiding foods that trigger your canker sores, maintaining good oral hygiene, and managing stress. 

Canker Sore FAQs 

Q. What can I do to relieve pain from canker sores? 

A. Over-the-counter topical treatments and pain relievers can provide temporary relief. Avoid hot, spicy, or acidic foods that can irritate the sores further. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush can also help reduce irritation. 

Q. Are canker sores contagious? 

A. No, unlike cold sores, canker sores are not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person through contact or sharing eating utensils. 

Q. How can I prevent canker sores? 

A. Focus on maintaining good oral hygiene, manage stress, avoid foods that trigger your sores, and ensure you’re getting adequate vitamins and minerals in your diet. Consider talking to your dentist about identifying and addressing any specific triggers unique to you. 

Q. Should I see a dentist or doctor for canker sores? 

A. If your canker sores are large, painful, or don’t heal within two weeks, you should consult a dentist or doctor. They can provide treatment options and help rule out more serious conditions that can mimic canker sores, such as oral cancer or viral infections. 

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