Aching, unrelenting and infuriating, but tiny and out of sight: that’s what canker sores on gums are for people who experience them.
Also called aphtous ulcers, canker sores are different from cold sores in that they crop up on the inner soft tissues of your mouth and aren’t contagious. The cause of canker sores on gums in many cases is unknown, although they are common. Treatment is not even necessary most of the time.
These canker sores on gums are little shallow ulcers that materialize in the mouth and frequently make eating and speaking painful.
A weakened immune system; dietary deficiencies such as Vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid and iron deficiency; gastrointestinal tract disease such as Celiac or Crohn’s; and other basic health conditions can cause complex canker sores.
You may have a canker sore if you have:
- A painful sore or sores inside your mouth that develops into open mouth ulcers – on the tongue, soft palate, gums or inside your cheek that are round, white or gray in color, with a red edge or border
- A tingling or burning sensation prior to the appearance of the sores
Canker sores can run in families, and can be triggered by emotional stress, menstrual periods, hormonal changes, food allergies, and similar situations. Less common symptoms include:
- General discomfort or uneasiness
- Swollen lymph nodes
Other causes of canker sores are injury to the gums from brushing and illnesses in which the immune system causes swelling or inflammation of the body tissues. Smoking and dentures can also contribute to the problem.
Female sex hormones also play a part in causing canker sores, and most women experience improvement or remission of their mouth ulcers during pregnancy.
Hope for Sufferers of Mouth Ulcers
A new over-the-counter patch may help canker sores heal faster. Scientists announced the news in March of this year at the 85th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, held in New Orleans.
Researchers studied 46 adults with recurrent canker sores. Half of the subjects received the patches, called Cankermelts, which the researchers say contain licorice extract to curb inflammation.
By the end of the eight-day study, the patients who wore the canker sore patches had less pain and smaller sores than the untreated group.
Most canker sores will heal on their own in a few days to a couple of weeks. You’ll want to watch what you eat when you have a canker sore: peppery and acidic foods such as lemons and tomatoes can be excruciating on these open wounds.
Help is on the way though. Therabreath has recently introduced theirPeriotherapy System Kit that is designed to not only reduce and get rid of canker sores, but to prevent their return.
Dr. Katz is a practicing dentist who also has a degree in Biology. This gives him a unique perspective into the problem, and allows him to look at both solutions *and* prevention for problems like canker sores on gums.
You can learn more about the science of canker sores from Dr. Katz here.