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Facts about Canker Sores

written by: Victoria Trix • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 12/29/2008

Canker sores are more common than many people think. Here we will take a look at both the simple and complex canker sores.

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    Canker sores are a common problem for a number of people. They are a type of ulcer, specifically known as aphthous ulcers. Typically, canker sores occur on the inside of the lips, the gums, the inner cheeks, and the tongue. Sometimes they appear in groups; other times only a single canker sore occurs. There are two different types of canker sores: simple and complex.

    Simple canker sores tend to occur three to four times per year. They typically last for approximately a week. They are most common in people between the ages of ten and twenty. Complex canker sores are much less common. Generally, only people who have had them before get them.

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    Causes of Canker Sores

    The precise cause of canker sores is not known. There are however a number of general causes. For example, simple canker sores may be caused by stress, damage or injury to the tissue in the mouth, or foods that contain a high content of acid, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes. Often, something as simple as a tooth with a sharp edge or a dental mouthpiece can also cause canker sores.

    Conversely, complex canker sores are believed to be caused by other health problems. These include a weak immune system. Certain vitamin deficiencies – B-12, zinc, folic acid, iron, et cetera – may also cause complex canker sores, as can stomach problems such as Crohn's and Celiac disease.

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    Prevention of Canker Sores

    There is no cure for canker sores, although there are preventative tactics. It is possible to prevent the occurrence of canker sores by avoiding the foods that irritate and exacerbate them. Refraining from chewing gum can also prevent them from occurring. Good oral hygiene is perhaps the best prevention for canker sores. For instance, using a toothbrush with soft bristles and brushing after each meal, as well as flossing at least once a day, are just a few acts that can successfully prevent canker sores.

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    Treatments of Canker Sores

    Typically, canker sores will gradually get better on their own over the course of a week or so. However, if the ulcers are particularly large and painful, then a doctor or dentist can prescribe several different treatments. Generally, antimicrobial mouthwash, corticosteroid ointments, or certain solutions – some prescription, some not – will be used to treat canker sores. One must instead try to prevent them from occurring in the first place or, failing that, visit the doctor or dentist for the best course of treatment.

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    Sources

    WebMD.com from the article: Canker Sores: Symptoms, Triggers and Treatment Reviewed on March 1, 2007

    HealthSquare.com from the article: Canker Sores Publication date unknown