What Are Aphthous Ulcers?

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You just took your first bite of that piping-hot pizza, when all of a sudden, you feel a pang in your mouth! So, what's that sore that's causing the burning sensation? An aphthous ulcer may be the culprit. They can appear on the tongue, floor of the mouth, on the inside of your cheek and even on your palate. But what are they exactly, how do they develop and can they be treated?

What Are Aphthous Ulcers?

More commonly known as canker sores, these pesky spots are quite common. The Indian Journal of Dental Research estimates that 20 percent of the population experience canker sores. The researchers classify canker sores as the most prevalent types of oral mucosal lesions and perhaps one of the most painful.

A canker sore is a small lesion with a white center and surrounded by a red area. It usually resolves on its own, usually clearing up in seven to 10 days. Just a single sore may appear or they may erupt in a cluster. It can be uncomfortable to eat, drink, and even talk if they are present. They can occur anywhere in the mouth and are not contagious.

Why Do Aphthous Ulcers Develop?

There are several possible causes of canker sores, some of which you can control and others you cannot. The factor you may be able to control is being careful with your mouth. Trauma to your mouth, such as biting your cheek or tongue, or scraping yourself with a toothbrush may result in an aphthous ulcer.

Factors you can't control include your family history and hormone levels. Women are more likely than men to have recurring aphthous ulcers, perhaps because of the hormone imbalances that accompany menstruation, according to the Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology. The same study calculates that 40 percent of people who have recurring canker sores also have a family history of them.

How Are They Treated?

There are a number of therapeutic agents available, including prescription and over-the-counter methods. They can be topical, systemic or a combination of both. Mouthwashes containing peroxyl, such as the Colgate Peroxyl Mouth Sore Rinse, which is recommended by dental professionals to cleanse and soothe canker sores, denture and mouth irritations, can provide relief. Remember that canker sores clear up quickly, so you'll feel better in just a few days.

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