Have you ever taken a sip of orange juice or a bite of hot spaghetti, only to feel a sharp sting on your gum? This is a common reaction when you have a canker sore.
Everyone suffers from a canker sore on gum tissue once in a while, either as a stinging or burning sensation. It can be a particular pain when you eat, drink or even talk. Canker sores develop inside the mouth, and whether or not it's swollen right away, it usually begins with an uncomfortable tingling feeling on the inside of your lip, tongue or cheek.
Common Causes of a Canker Sore
Canker sores can come from several sources, both behavioral and systemic. These include:
- Viral infection
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Food allergies
- Vitamin or mineral deficiencies (B12, folate, iron)
- Mouth injury
How to Spot It
Canker sores appear as round ulcers, and can develop on the linings of the cheeks and lips, the tongue or at the base of the gumline. Certain foods that are hot, citrus, acidic or spicy in nature can cause these ulcers to become more painful and, as a result, more pronounced. In contrast, foods such as salmon, parsley, kale, carrots, spinach and yogurt can lessen these breakouts due to their vitamin content. These foods contain vitamin B12, folate and iron – all of which can help to minimize the possibility of canker sores in the mouth.
How to Soothe It
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), canker sores usually heal on their own between one and two weeks. However, topical anesthetics you can purchase over-the-counter, as well as antimicrobial mouthwashes, can provide temporary relief from a canker sore on gum tissue anywhere between the teeth and lips.
How to Cure It
To prevent a canker sore, try brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush after big meals and using floss daily. This can help to keep your mouth clean of foods that have the potential to trigger a canker sore at the outset. If a you've already developed a canker sore, consider relieving the pain or irritation with a topical medication, many of which can be applied directly onto the ulcer. Ointments like Colgate® Orabase® 20% Benzocaine, which forms a protective barrier over the gum, can aid in shielding the canker sore from any further irritation. Certain mouthwashes and oral medication can also help relieve the discomfort from having a sore.
Still other sores may come from sensitivities to dental ingredients you don't normally pay attention to. Using toothpastes without sodium lauryl sulfate, for example, may help you get better. Some people do find relief from not using products with this ingredient in it.
See your dentist if you persistently get canker sores; he or she can correctly diagnose and prescribe the oral medications needed to remedy this common condition. After all, a healthy mouth is crucial to a beautiful smile.