Here at the Central Park S. Dental Care we often find that people are slightly confused about cold sores and canker sores. In fact they are quite different as cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex type I virus and are highly contagious. They develop outside the mouth and form painful little blisters usually around the lips or under the chin or under the nose. In contrast canker sore develop inside the mouth and are not contagious.
How Do You Know If You Have a Canker Sore?
You may have a canker sore if you have a painful sore spot inside your mouth, for example on your soft palate or at the back of the roof of your mouth, or on your tongue or cheeks. Before the canker sore appears you might have noticed you had a tingling or burning sensation in that spot. The actual sores can look white or grey with a red tinged border. If you have a particularly bad attack of canker sores then it’s possible you may experience swollen lymph nodes or fever and you may feel very sluggish or run down (Read also: Preventative Dentistry).
What Causes Canker Sore?
This is a tricky one to answer as the exact cause is generally unknown. Sometimes canker sores can be exacerbated by the presence of stress or if you have a tissue injury. Some people find that certain foods can set off an attack and these tend to include highly acidic fruits and vegetables such as oranges and lemons and tomatoes and strawberries. Sometimes a canker sore can be caused by having a dental appliance that doesn’t fit terribly well. Other times canker sores can be an indication of an underlying health condition such as a vitamin B12 deficiency or iron deficiency or a disease such as coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease.
Is There Any Treatment for Canker Sores?
Most times canker sores will heal up on their own after a week or two and do not require any specific treatment. However if you have large or particularly persistent canker sore then please contact us for an appointment with one of our dentists. We may be able to prescribe something to help such as a corticosteroid ointment or an antimicrobial mouth rinse to help reduce the pain and irritation. We can also check to make sure you don’t have a sharp tooth or dental appliance that is irritating your mouth.
Can I Prevent Canker Sores in the Future?
Unfortunately canker sore cannot be cured and they may re-occur. However you can try to reduce the frequency of attacks by making sure you brush and floss frequently, removing any food particles that may irritate your mouth and trigger an attack. It can also help to avoid eating foods that could irritate your mouth and which include very spicy and acidic foods.
When Do I Need to See a Dentist about Canker Sores?
You should give us a call if your canker sore has lasted more than three weeks or if it feels extremely painful. You should also contact us if you have a high fever and are unable to drink sufficient fluids. Even if your symptoms don’t seem that severe then please remember you can always call us to get advice from our friendly dental team.