Causes of Canker Sores

Causes of Canker Sores

If you have ever had a canker sore, you know that they are painful. They are certainly a nuisance in your mouth. But what are they, and what causes them?


A canker sore is a tiny ulcer in the lining of your mouth. It occurs when the top layer of epithelial cells gets worn away, uncovering the blood vessels and nerves below. Though it is not fully understood why this happens, it is known that canker sores are an autoimmune reaction; in short, your body attacks itself.


There are theories for how this autoimmune reaction is triggered, however. Some possibilities include:


• Allergic reactions to bacteria in the mouth
• Sensitivity to toothpastes, or acidic or spicy foods.
• Stress, which can weaken your immune system
• Gastrointestinal problems that are autoimmune in nature, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease.
• Vitamin B12 deficiencies
• Injuries that cut the inside of your mouth, arising from such things as braces, hard toothbrush bristles, sharp edges of broken teeth, or sharp pieces of food


Canker sores usually resolve in one to two weeks. In the meantime, avoid acidic and spicy foods, which may make it worse. Rinsing with warm saltwater can help it heal faster. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics can relieve the pain. If a canker sore lasts for more than two weeks, see a dentist, as other, more serious health conditions can mimic the appearance of canker sores. If you have a canker sore that will not go away, call our office to schedule an appointment for a dental exam in Northridge.


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