If you’ve ever gotten a canker sore before, you know how annoying they can be. They can also be hard to get rid of.
Read on to learn the difference between a canker sore and a mouth ulcer and treatment options to help you get rid of these pesky mouth sores.
What Is A Canker Sore?
Canker sores or mouth ulcers typically appear under the tongue, on the gums or roof of the mouth, and inside the lip. They tend to measure less than a millimeter but may expand to a half-inch or an inch in diameter.
Canker sores stem from aphthous stomatitis, a condition involving the recurring formation of benign and non-contagious mouth ulcers. They may also be the result of trauma to the mouth.
What Causes Canker Sores?
Canker sores can be caused by the following:
- A deficiency of iron and B vitamins
- Consumption of acidic foods
- Use of braces, retainers, or ill-fitting dentures
- Injury on the inside of the mouth or accidental biting of the inside cheek or tongue
- A lack of sleep
- An allergic reaction to certain bacteria
- Viral, bacterial, or fungal infections
- Use of a harsh or abrasive toothpaste
- Hormonal changes during a woman’s period
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also provoke the onset of canker sores.
People diagnosed with autoimmune conditions such as AIDS, Lupus, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease are likely to develop complex canker sores.
While complex canker sores are less common than simple sores, they’re larger and more painful.
Cold sore vs. canker sore
Do note that a canker sore is different from a cold sore. The latter is contagious, while the former isn’t.
Cold sores describe fluid-filled blisters that can appear in the mouth or around the genitals. The problem transpires in people with the herpes simplex virus, which is contagious. It can spread through kissing and sharing utensils, straws, towels, and even lip balm.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) relates the development of canker sores and mouth ulcers to toxic Heat, Stomach Fire or Heat, Heart Fire or a Yin Deficiency.
Treatments For Canker Sores
Canker sore pain will subside in a few days without treatment. Most canker sores can also heal naturally within two weeks.
Over-the-counter and prescription products may help ease the discomfort felt by people with canker sores or mouth ulcers.
Adopting healthy habits will lower a person’s risk of these problems. Examples of these are:
- Avoiding acidic, salty, and spicy foods
- Brushing your teeth twice and flossing once daily
- Consuming a diet that consists of a high intake of fruits and vegetables
- Using a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent tissue irritation
Topical and oral solutions
A healthcare provider may suggest you use topical and oral products to subdue the pain and discomfort felt by mouth ulcers. These include:
- Corticosteroid ointments
- Medicated mouth rinses
- Antiseptic and anesthetic gels
Natural ways to get rid of canker sores and mouth ulcers
TCM Physician Lim Sock Ling recommends an alternative approach compromising herbal remedies and acupuncture.
The activation of lian quan (CV23) and he gu (LI4) acupoints can help relieve canker sores or ulcers.
Herbal formulas and ingredients
Herbal remedies can correct the body constitution imbalances that trigger either problem.
Peppermint (bo he) is present in Yin Qiao and Sang Ju powder and can be consumed as a tea to relieve Wind-Heat and help with ulcers.
It can also induce a breakout of rashes to release toxins. Lopatherum (dan zhu ye) tea clears Heat, eases pent-up frustration, encourages urination, and relieves thirst.
Eugenol – the active ingredient in cloves – suppresses swelling by numbing an affected gum area. A salt water rinse or sage mouthwash possesses antiviral and antioxidant properties, which can help heal ulcers.
Seek Professional Help For Canker Sores
Tandem use of clinical and herbal remedies will effectively address the onset of canker sores and mouth ulcers.
It’s advisable to speak to a healthcare provider and TCM practitioner before treating the problem. It’ll ensure that you avoid unnecessary health complications.
For example, activation of he gu acupoint isn’t recommended for pregnant women. You should also refrain from using cooling herbs like peppermint and lopatherum on an empty stomach.
- Cleveland Clinic. Canker Sores.
- Cleveland Clinic. Mouth Ulcer.
- Cleveland Clinic. Cold Sores.
- Archives of Pharmacol Research. 2003. Ginsenoside Rb1: the anti-ulcer constituent from the head of Panax ginseng.
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