Canker sores are little ulcers that sometimes occur in the mouth, and on the tongue, lips, and/or soft palate. While some people get them regularly, others never do. These sores are not a serious health issue, but they can cause discomfort. What can you do to get rid of them or avoid them altogether? Here’s what you need to know.
What causes canker sores? Are they contagious?
Canker sores may arise when there is trauma in the mouth, such as abrasions from braces, sharp teeth, or food that nicks up the gums and soft tissue. Some individuals find that they get them when they eat too much acidic food, such as vinegar and some fruits. The exact cause of canker sores is not known; they may be viral or an immune system issue. Canker sores are not contagious, and they normally don’t lead to more serious problems.
How long do canker sores last? Can I do anything to avoid them and make them go away, or do I just need to wait?
Canker sores can last anywhere between 3 and 14 days. Sometimes patients report that their canker sores appear when they experience excessive stress. For patients who get them regularly, we recommend taking an amino acid called lysine, which is available over the counter wherever vitamins and supplements are sold. Some patients take it daily and find that it helps them avoid the sores. Dr. Gio also recommends taking lysine as soon as a sore begins to help minimize its duration. Lysine helps the immune system with anti-viral effects. In certain cases, we may prescribe cyclovir, an anti-viral medication.
What can I do to ease the discomfort of canker sores?
Topical numbing gels are available over the counter from the pharmacy. We also offer safe, painless, cold laser therapy treatments in our office. This frequently helps patients begin feeling better before they even leave the office! Cold laser treatment helps with soft tissue healing and shortens the duration of a canker sore. Depending on the severity of the sores, patients may require two or three of these treatments.
How can I avoid getting canker sores?
While anyone can develop a canker sore due to varying causes, avoiding them may require specific steps. If you’ve noticed that this condition is a regular occurrence for you, come talk to us and we’ll make recommendations. Dr. Gio also recommends taking lysine regularly. It will help!