Canker sores are also known as aphthous ulcers. They are small, shallow lesions and they can be found on the soft tissues of your mouth or on the gums. Canker sores are not the same as cold sores; they do not appear on the lips and they are not contagious like cold sores. But canker sores can be painful, irritating or just plain annoying.
We are not always sure what causes each individual canker sore, but these are typical culprits:
- A small or minor injury to your mouth. This could be caused by aggressive brushing, or a collision (particularly a sports-related one)
- Accidentally biting your cheek
- Sharp edges on dental appliances
- Eating spicy food
- Food sensitivities
- Insufficient B-12
- Changes in hormones as a part of the menstrual cycle
- Allergic reactions
- Stress, anxiety or depression
- Celiac disease (gluten sensitivity)
- Gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Canker sores typically go away on their own within one to two weeks. But you should seek advice from your health care professional if your canker sores recur, if they grow, if they last longer than three weeks, if they extend into the lip, if the pain is intolerable or if you develop a high fever.
Of course, see your dentist immediately if any dental or orthodontic appliances develop sharp edges, so she can make needed repairs and prevent further mouth injury.