What are canker sores?
If you are like me, you have experienced the frustration of canker sores. Trying to eat or even speak can lead to a lot of pain. There are many rumors about what cause them and how to treat them, but which one are true? The truth is that a lot of research still needs to be done before we understand them enough, but we currently think there are several causes.
Medically, a canker sore is known as aphthous stomatitis. They are usually white areas that are surrounded by a red ring, and can be found on lips, cheeks, tongue, the floor of the mouth, and even in the throat. At our dental practice, we are often asked how to treat a canker sore, but unfortunately there is no cure. Instead, treatment usually has a goal of relieving symptoms.
What causes these sores and is there treatment?
Canker sores were once thought to be caused by a virus and patients were often prescribed anti-viral medication, which would usually have no effect. Today, it is believed that they are not caused by something specific and are instead a result of an imbalance in the body. The imbalance could be caused by multiple factors, including a person’s genes, oral bacteria, immune system status, and environment.
You can think of a canker sore kind of like a headache – it’s a sign some things are out of balance in the body. As research improves our understanding, we will hopefully be able to pinpoint the causes and develop more appropriate treatment options. For now, we will continue to do the best we can do make our patients more comfortable.