Canker sores are a common medical condition that can occur in people of all ages and health. They are small sores that form inside of the mouth and make drinking and eating painful and difficult, as well as making it hard to speak clearly. Canker sores are known as aphthous ulcers within the medical field, but unlike cold sores, they are not contagious and will generally heal naturally in a matter of weeks.
There are no proven causes of canker sores, but various factors can be attributed to the formation of them. Genes passed down through families may be a factor, as well as numerous outside environmental changes and conditions. Fruits and vegetables that are high in acids can cause a sore to appear, as can toothpastes that have a high concentration of sodium lauryl sulfate. Other factors that can be attributed to the formation of these painful sores are stress and anxiety, hormonal changes, prescription and illegal drugs, and even dental problems or instruments within the mouth.
The most common beginning signs of a canker sore forming will be a tingling and burning inside of the mouth. Shortly afterward small red sores will appear, causing pain and even a fever if they are large enough. The sores will burst after a few days, leaving a white or yellow wound, thus forming the canker sore. The treatment options for a canker sore are usually very simple. Most of the time the sores will heal naturally within a few weeks, but in some cases may require actual medications to treat. The pain caused by them will subside in a few days, and the sore will be completely gone in one to two weeks. If the sores are more severe, or they are persistent, then a dentist or medical provider may need to be consulted. They will usually suggest an antimicrobial mouth rinse or a corticosteroid ointment, both of which can be obtained with or without a prescription.