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Canker Sores

Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are painful mouth sores that can affect people of all ages. They are not contagious but can be uncomfortable. Causes include injuries, stress, certain foods, hormonal changes, and weakened immune system. Symptoms include pain, difficulty swallowing, and fever in severe cases. Treatment options include OTC topical medications, pain relief, avoiding triggers, good oral hygiene, and prescription medications for severe cases. Prevention strategies include avoiding triggers, maintaining oral hygiene, managing

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Introduction

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are painful lesions that develop inside the mouth. These small, shallow sores are typically round or oval with a white or yellowish center and a red border. While canker sores can affect people of all ages, they are more commonly seen in teenagers and young adults. Although canker sores are not contagious, they can be quite uncomfortable and can interfere with eating, drinking, and speaking. This article will provide an overview of canker sores, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Causes

The exact cause of canker sores is still not fully understood, but several factors can contribute to their development. These may include: - Injury or trauma to the soft tissues of the mouth, such as accidental bites or toothbrush abrasions - Emotional stress or anxiety - Certain foods or dietary deficiencies, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, or inadequate intake of vitamins B12, zinc, or iron - Hormonal changes, particularly in women during menstruation - Weakened immune system

Symptoms

Canker sores typically start as a tingling or burning sensation in the affected area, followed by the development of a small, painful sore. The sores may appear on the inside of the cheeks, lips, tongue, gums, or throat. Common symptoms include: - Pain or discomfort, especially while eating, drinking, or speaking - Difficulty swallowing - Swollen lymph nodes - Fever in severe cases The duration of canker sores is usually about one to two weeks, and they tend to recur periodically.

Treatment

Most canker sores do not require specific treatment and usually heal on their own within a couple of weeks. However, there are several remedies that can help alleviate symptoms or speed up the healing process: - Over-the-counter (OTC) topical medications: Creams, gels, or mouthwashes containing ingredients like benzocaine, hydrogen peroxide, or antimicrobial agents can provide pain relief and promote healing. - Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help manage pain associated with canker sores. - Avoiding triggers: Identifying and avoiding any known triggers, such as certain foods or stressors, may help reduce the frequency and severity of canker sores. - Oral hygiene: Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing and flossing, can prevent secondary infections and aid in the healing process. - Prescription medications: In severe or recurrent cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe stronger medications, such as corticosteroids or antimicrobial mouth rinses, to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Prevention

Although it may not be possible to prevent canker sores completely, certain preventive measures can help reduce their occurrence or severity: - Avoiding known triggers: If certain foods or factors like stress consistently trigger canker sores, it is advisable to avoid or minimize exposure to them. - Good oral hygiene: Regular brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing can help prevent injuries to the mouth and reduce the risk of infections. - Stress management: Engaging in stress-reducing activities, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies, can help prevent canker sores related to emotional stress. - Nutritional balance: Consuming a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and essential nutrients can support overall oral health and reduce the risk of developing canker sores.

Conclusion

Canker sores are common, painful mouth ulcers that can cause discomfort and interfere with daily activities