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What Causes Canker Sores? How Can You Prevent Them?

Most of us are familiar with the excruciating pain that comes along with having a canker sore. Most of us that know the pain would be willing to do mostly anything to keep them from popping up. After so many studies and experimentations, the jury is still out when it comes to how these irritating and painful sores make their way into your mouth.

So, what causes canker sores? Nobody is 100% sure what it is, if it is any ONE thing, that triggers them. What these studies have given us is a general idea of the several things that could contribute. So we are going to provide you with information on what some of these causes might be, how to treat them if it has already surfaced and/or how to prevent them if it hasn’t.

Maybe you have noticed trends on when you experience your canker sores. Studies have proven that a large influence on your eligibility to have one is directly correlated to your stress level. Women, just by nature, are more susceptible to them than men; specifically adolescents and young adults. For women, the likelihood of developing one goes up during their menstrual cycle. Acidic foods and beverages also contribute to your susceptibility to them, making foods like oranges, tomatoes, pineapples and pickles potential contributors to your pain. Maybe the food or beverage wasn’t acidic, could it still have something to do with your canker sore? The answer is yes; another contributing factor is the temperature of what you are ingesting, a burn could be a trigger. Another suspected cause is if you have a sharp tooth/surface that is rubbing against other parts of you mouth, causing irritation. If it isn’t a sharp or chipped tooth it could be your braces or retainer. And lastly, if it’s none of the aforementioned causes, the last culprit we can trace these canker sores back to is, perhaps, a nutritional or vitamin deficiency (particularly a lack of vitamin B-12).

The trick is, what sorts of preventative measures can you take to ensure that these canker sores are not a regular occurrence for you? While they are not contagious, it will still take up to two weeks for your sore to cure if it goes untreated and in extreme cases cause fevers, physical sluggishness or swollen lymph nodes. So it’s best to take preventative action versus trying to treat it.

While it may seem bizarre, practicing relaxation techniques and/or meditating can help to keep your stress levels manageable. If you recall earlier in this post, we specifically reference vitamin B-12 deficiency as a cause; try taking a B-12 supplement every day.It could also mean that there is a lack of lysine in your diet which can be found in fish, potatoes, chicken and egg; eat more of it! Using a soft bristled toothbrush is a perfect example of how you can take simple preventative measures from causing physical trauma to your mouth, which can also them. As stated earlier the temperature of your food or drink can be a determining factor; let it cool! As is with any oral issue, it’s good to avoid tobacco. Avoiding even chewing gum and lozenges could help as well. We recommend that you use toothpaste and mouthwash that  does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate. If you experience any tingling on the inside of your mouth, it could be an indication of one surfacing. We suggest if you experience this sensation to use a product called Orabase to help prevent it.

If your canker sore lasts longer than two weeks, it could mean that the sore is only a symptom of a larger issue; they may prescribe you antimicrobial mouthwash or ointment to care for the infected area.

Hopefully this was a useful post for those of you on the search for relief; here’s to hoping we could help to keep it from happening again! If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call us today for a consultation! We’re here to help!

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Dr. James Maxwell

Dr. James Maxwell graduated from Allegheny College with a B.S. Degree in Biology in 1995, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine with a Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree in 2000. He stays abreast of developments in dentistry by following over 100 hours of continuing education courses each year, ex. Advanced Laser Dentistry courses and training at The Dawson Academy. He became the sole practitioner of Crestwood Dental Group in 2003.

Dr. Maxwell focuses on cosmetic, restorative, and preventative dentistry though he is skilled in all areas of general dentistry. A member of many professional organizations such as the American Dental Association, Missouri Dental Association, and the Greater St. Louis Dental Society, he has been nominated as a top dentist in St. Louis for five consecutive years by his peers. The list appears in St. Louis Magazine.

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