What Causes Canker Sores?

What Causes Canker Sores?


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If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you’re in the majority. More than half of people will experience this uncomfortable mouth condition at some point during their lives.

Even though canker sores are common, they’re usually unwelcome. They probably leave you wondering how you got the canker sore in the first place.

At the Center for Advanced Dentistry, our team prioritizes more than just keeping your teeth clean. We’re here to be your oral health partner, helping you understand and treat common conditions like canker sores, dry mouth, bad breath, and more.

At our office in San Jose, California, you get our team behind you to keep your mouth healthy and comfortable. Canker sores get in the way of that. So let’s take a look at canker sores, what causes them, and what you can do to treat them.

Canker sores vs. cold sores

It’s easy to get canker sores confused with cold sores. Both occur in your mouth, but there are some key differences.

The main differentiator is their location. Canker sores form on the soft tissue of your mouth, like your gums or cheeks. They can also develop on your tongue.

Cold sores, on the other hand, form on your lips.

The cause of canker sores

Researchers still aren’t 100% sure what causes canker sores. The good news is that, unlike cold sores, canker sores aren’t contagious.

Medical experts are still searching for a precise cause of canker sores, but they do know that a variety of factors seem to heighten your risk for developing these uncomfortable lesions in your mouth.

Some factors that contribute to canker sores include:

  • A traumatic injury, like accidentally biting your cheek
  • Stress
  • Dietary deficiencies (lack of vitamin B12, iron, zinc, or folate)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Food sensitivity
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate, which is in some toothpastes and mouthwashes

Ultimately, because a number of triggers can contribute to canker sores, they’re hard to avoid. If you notice one developing, check your diet and evaluate your stress levels. Correcting nutrient deficiencies, avoiding foods that irritate your mouth, and finding ways to relax can help you avoid future canker sores.

Treating canker sores

In most cases, canker sores go away on their own within a couple of weeks. That said, if your canker sore causes you pain, don’t hesitate to come visit us. We can help you manage any discomfort.

If you have a major, slow-healing canker sore, we can also prescribe steroids to help treat it.

In short, if you have a canker sore that’s bothering you, you have options. Call our office or schedule your appointment online today.

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