Canker sores: What Are They?
Canker sores (also called an aphthous ulceration) is a common and non-contagious mouth ulcer. This condition is characterized by formation of ulcers on the mucous membrane of the oral cavity (the lining of the mouth) and tongue, in otherwise healthy individuals. These ulcers occur periodically and heal completely between attacks. Symptoms range from a minor nuisance to interfering with eating and drinking.
A canker sore is a painful, open sore in the mouth. Canker sores are white or yellow and surrounded by a bright red area. They are not cancerous. A canker sore is not the same as a fever blister (cold sore).
Triggers Can Be:
- Nutritional deficiencies or excesses
- Local trauma
- Hormonal influences
- Allergies or food intolerances
The condition is very common, affecting about 20% of the general population. There is no cure, and treatments are aimed at reducing pain and speeding up the healing process.
But prevention of this painful condition can be accomplished by:
A healthy lifestyle: very often a lack of high water content foods (i.e. veggies) leads to an acidification (congestion) of tissues leading to inflammation of the mouth area and the resultant canker sore. Foods such as too much meat, dairy, sugar and processed foods can contribute to oral inflammation as well. A deficiency of B12 and zinc, folic acid and iron can be the source of the problem too.
See your dentist: sometimes a sharp tooth surface or dental appliance, such as braces or ill-fitting dentures, might also trigger canker sores.
If you are under a lot of stress: make sure you are drinking enough water, eating well and taking time out of every day to simply relax. Even 15 minutes a couple of times a day with your eyes shut listening to soft music or nature sounds can reduce anxiety considerably. Go to bed earlier — sleep deprivation lowers immunity.
Foods to avoid: known food triggers are certain fruits and vegetables such as lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes, and strawberries — these can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Gluten sensitive individuals notice an upswing of these sores if they consume a gluten-containing product too.
I have a canker sore already. What can I do to make it disappear quicker and lessen the pain?
Light veggie soup broths with lots of water daily help reduce the irritation the quickest and with less pain. Solid food can aggravate the condition, especially if the sore is on the tongue or inside the oral cavity. Sixteen, 8 ounce glasses of water at least a day along with the bowl of broth (3-4 times a day) will reduce the pain and you will see the lesion growing smaller within days.
- Red raspberry leaf tea swish — make a cup of tea from red raspberry leaves. Let cool. Swish in mouth full strength and spit out. Continue for the cup of tea. Do this 2x daily.
- Baking soda and salt rinse — 1/4 teaspoon of salt mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in 6 ounces of warm or room temperature water. Swish small amounts in in mouth and spit out. Use until glass is empty. If the lesion is external some people use a paste made of salt and baking soda and apply to the sore for 15-20 minutes. Either procedure 3x daily.
- Brush teeth with natural toothpaste (lightly) avoiding touching the area completely.
- Zinc: 50 mg / day.
- Probiotics (products that help replenish the friendly bacteria in the digestive tract) may also be helpful.
- A multiple mineral supplement such as Total Mins by Country Life.
I had one of these nasty canker sores by having tomato sauce (lots of it as a concentrated paste when I was invited out, and I knew better. For me, too many tomatoes have always been a trigger).
Using the remedies and procedures above I was able to lessen the discomfort in 1 day and the sore disappeared 3 days later.
Have you had any experiences yourself with canker sores? What has worked (or didn’t) for you? Please leave a comment below: