All you need to know about Canker Sore

Overview Canker sores/Ulcer aphthous/ Aphthous stomatitis Canker sores also called aphthous ulcers or aphthous stomatitis are the small, superficial lesions that form on the soft tissues of your mouth or in the inner side of your gums. These are tender and cause difficulty in eating, talking, and other normal activities. These aren’t contagious and do not […]


Canker sores/Ulcer aphthous/ Aphthous stomatitis

Canker sores also called aphthous ulcers or aphthous stomatitis are the small, superficial lesions that form on the soft tissues of your mouth or in the inner side of your gums. These are tender and cause difficulty in eating, talking, and other normal activities. These aren’t contagious and do not occur on the exterior of your lips like those of cold sores.

Mostly the canker sores are gone on their own within a week or two. But you should get them to check with your doctor if you feel very large or inflamed canker sores that don’t improve on their own.


Canker sore on tongue/ Canker sore on lip/ Canker sore on gum/ Canker sore under tongue/ Cold sore on tongue/ Cold sore inside mouth/ Canker sore in mouth/ Canker sore on tonsil/ Sore inside mouth/ Canker sore in throat/ Sores under tongue/ Sanker sore on roof of mouth


Mostly the canker sores are circular or oval in contour with a white or yellow center encircled by a red border. They form on the inner side of your mouth — above or under the tongue, inside your lips or cheeks, at the base of gums, or onto the soft palate.
You might sense tingling or prickling at the site one or two days before the sores appear.

There are various types of canker sores. These include the minor, the major, and the herpetiform sores.

Minor canker sores

Minor canker sores are the most prevalent and:

  • They are mostly smaller in size
  • Heal without leaving a scar within a week or two
  • They have a red border in an oval frame

Major canker sores

Major canker sores are slightly less common and:

  • Are more extensive and deeper as compared to the minor canker sores
  • Can be extremely tender to touch
  • Are mostly round with sharp borders, but they may possess irregular edges when the size is unusually large
  • May take almost six weeks to recover and can leave wide scarring

Herpetiform canker sores

Herpetiform canker sores are uncommon and normally develop in old age. Herpes virus infection is not the cause.

These sores:

  • Are of pinpoint size
  • Usually occur in groups of 10 to 100 sores, but may blend into one large ulcer
  • Have uneven edges
  • Heal without leaving any scar within one or two weeks

When should I see a doctor

Discuss your doctor if you feel:

  • Remarkably big canker sores
  • Recurring of sores, with new ones emerging before the old ones recover.
  • Persistent sores, lasting for about two weeks or even more
  • Sores that spread into the lips (vermilion border)
  • Uncontrollable pain
  • Severe difficulty in eating or drinking
  • High-grade fever with the canker sores

You must see your dentist if you feel sharp tooth surfaces or any dental appliances that you feel to trigger the origin of the sores.

Canker Sore Causes

The definite cause of canker sores is still unclear, though the researchers assume that several factors are contributing to the outbreaks, yet in the same person as well

The likely triggers for canker sores comprise:

  • A trivial injury inside your mouth from any dental work, overeager brushing, any sports misfortunes or an involuntary cheek bite
  • Toothpaste and the mouth rinses comprising sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Food allergies, especially to chocolate, eggs, coffee, nuts, strawberries, and spicy or acidic foods
  • Food lacking in zinc, vitamin B-12, iron, or folate (folic acid)
  • An allergic response to some bacteria inside your mouth
  • Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that cause peptic ulcer in the stomach
  • Hormonal fluctuations during the menstruation cycles in females
  • Emotional anxiety

Canker sores can also happen because of several conditions and disorders, such as:

  • Celiac disease, a severe intestinal disease caused by an allergy to gluten, a protein present in most grains
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease and the ulcerative colitis
  • Behcet’s disease, a rare disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, including the mouth
  • A weak immune system that affects otherwise normal cells in your mouth rather than pathogens, including viruses and bacteria
  • HIV/AIDS, which restrains the normal functioning of the immune system

Note: Canker sores are not affiliated with herpes virus infections.

Mouth sore causes

Different conditions can cause ulcers or sores in the mouth. A few are described here;

  • Cold Sores are red, tender, fluid-filled lesions that form near the lips and mouth. It may also accompany flu-like symptoms, low-grade fever, body aches and inflammation of lymph nodes
  •  Gingivomatitis is a frequent infection of the gums and mouth. These are tender ulcers present inside of cheeks, grayish-yellow on the margins, and red in the center. It may also cause drilling and pain while eating.
  • Infectious mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Symptoms may also include fever,  sore throat, swollen lymph glands, fatigue, headache, night sweats, and body aches which may last up to 2 months
  • Folate deficiency. Folate is the vitamin B that is used in the formation of DNA and DNA repair. Anemia is the most common consequence of folate deficiency. Its symptoms include weakness, pale skin, tongue swelling, and gray hair.

white mouth sore

  • Oral thrush is a yeast infection that causes ulceration on the inside of the mouth and tongue. It is common in children. Symptoms also include creamy white ulcers on the surface of the tongue, on tonsils, gums, and inner cheeks. Also, the dry cracking of the skin at the mouth corners
  • Leukoplakia creates thick, white patches on the surfaces of the tongue and the mucosa of the mouth that are raised, hairy appearance. It occurs most frequently in smokers
  • Oral lichen planus affects the gums, lips, cheeks, and tongue. It comprises of white, raised patches of tissue inside the mouth resembling the spiderwebs. It may also have tender, swollen, bright red patches that may ulcerate.

cold mouth sores/ cold sore on tongue/ cold sore inside mouth

Cold mouth sores are red, fluid-filled lesions that occur on the lips, inside the mouth, on the tongue, or other areas of the face. In some cases, cold sores can appear on the nose or fingers. These are usually clumped together in large patches. Cold sores usually persist for two weeks or even longer.

The causative agent is the herpes simplex virus. They can spread through close contact. The sores are quite contagious even when the person is asymptomatic.

Though certain medications can be used to heal cold sores, these sores have no cure.

Risk factors

Anyone can have the canker sores. They happen more often in teens and young adults, and they’re more prevalent in females.
Often people with chronic or repeated canker sores have a family history of the disease. This may be because of heredity or any agent in the environment, such as certain foods or allergic pathogens.


Canker sores often reappear, though, you may be able to reduce their frequency by following certain guidelines:

  • Control through diet. Try to withdraw foods that appear to irritate your mouth. These include nuts, pretzels, chips, salty foods, certain spices, and acidic fruits, such as grapefruit, pineapple, and oranges. Circumventing any foods to which you are allergic is a good strategy to adopt.
  • Choose only healthy foods. To help limit nutritional deficiencies, eat a lot of fruits, green vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Follow healthy oral hygiene practices. Proper brushing after meals and flossing every day would keep your mouth fresh and clean. Use a fine, soft brush to help inhibit irritation to the sensitive mouth tissues, and avoid the use of toothpaste and other mouth rinses that comprise sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Protect your oral cavity. If you have braces in your mouth or other dental appliances, inquire about your dentist about the proper orthodontic waxes to conceal the sharp tooth edges.
  • Lessen your stress. If your canker sores appear to be related to stress, master and use stress-reduction routines, such as meditation and conducted imagery.

Is the canker sore contagious?

Canker sores are not proven to be contagious. Even the cake sore and the cold sores seem to have the same triggering factors, yet the canker sores are not contagious at all. This is because these sores are not caused by any bacteria or viruses.

Treatment of mouth sores/Canker Sore Treatment/Canker sore remedy

Canker Sore treatment is usually not needed because the minor canker sores clear on their own within a week or two. But the large, chronic or extremely painful sores usually need medical care.

Canker Sore relief by using Mouth rinses

If you have many canker sores, the doctor may prescribe you a mouth rinse comprising the steroid dexamethasone which reduces pain and inflammation or lidocaine which relieves pain in mouth sores.

Topical products used in mouth sores

Over-the-counter drugs and other prescription products such as the pastes, gels, creams, or liquids may also help in relieving the pain and speed up the healing of an ulcer. Some products may have active ingredients, such as:

  • Benzocaine (Anbesol, Zilactin-B,  Orabase, Kank-A)
  • Fluocinonide ( Vanos, Lidex)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (Peroxyl)

There are several other topical products used for canker sores, including those without having active ingredients. Ask your health practitioner or dentist for advice on which option is best for your sores.

Canker Sore Medicines

Oral medications for canker sores can be used when they are not responding to topical treatments. These may include:

  • Medications that are not specific for canker sore treatment, for example, the intestinal ulcer treatment that uses sucralfate (Carafate) as a coating agent and colchicine used to treat gout.
  • Oral steroid medications when the extreme canker sores do not respond to other treatments. But due to their side effects, they are used as a last option.

Cautery of sores

During cautery, the ulcer or damaged tissue is burned or sealed by an instrument or a chemical substance.

  • Debacterol is a well-known topical solution that is used to treat canker sores and gum problems. The chemical cauterization of canker sores reduces the healing time to about a week.
  • Silver nitrate is another option considered for the chemical cautery of canker sores. It is not known to show speed healing, but it can help relieve the canker sore pain.

Nutritional supplements

Your doctor may also prescribe a nutritional supplement if you have any essential nutrients deficiency, such as folate, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, or zinc.

Related health problems

If your canker sores relate to a more serious health problem, your doctor will treat the underlying condition.

Home remedies for canker sores and mouth ulcers

You can consider these tips to help relieve pain and speed healing of canker sores and other mouth sores:

  • Rinse the mouth. Use saltwater or the baking soda rinse solution by dissolving 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup of warm water.
  • Pat a little amount of milk of magnesia on the canker sore inside your mouth a few times a day.
  • Avoid harsh, acidic, or sour foods that can cause even greater irritation and pain.
  • Apply ice on to your canker sores and allow ice chips to dissolve slowly over the sores.
  • Brush your teeth smoothly, using a soft brush, and avoid foaming-agent containing toothpaste such as Biotene.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Clinics
Reset Filter

No listings Found!