Canker Sores- The Cause and Cure

Canker Sore

A canker sore is a small but painful ulcer, which occurs inside the mouth (usually found on the tongue, inside cheek, or along the gum line). Although they are temporary and benign, canker sores can be a nuisance making swallowing, eating, drinking and even talking very uncomfortable. These oral lesions usually appear white, grey or yellow with a white border and are not contagious.


Canker sores can be simple as well as complex.   Simple ulcerations may occur three to four times in a year and continue for approximately a week.   This type mainly affects youngsters and teenagers between 10- 20yrs old.   Complex canker sores occur more in people with a history of having ulcerations early on.


The exact cause of a canker sore is still unknown. They can be caused by stress, injury to the tissue, consumption of acidic or spicy foods, food allergies, deficiency of vitamins, autoimmune disorders or hormonal fluctuations. Sometimes canker sores can appear after an injury or laceration from the sharp edge of a dental utensil or a wire from braces or even by a toothbrush or toothpaste containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Smoking is also another likely cause. Canker sores develop more in women than men. Although we do not know the exact reason why, hormonal and immune system changes could be the likely cause.


Canker sores are usually identified by a burning sensation inside the mouth, followed by a pain, which becomes worse during eating, drinking or talking.

Less common symptoms of canker sores can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy and thrush infection inside the mouth or throat.

Canker Sores Are Not Cold Sores or Fever Blisters

Canker sores should not be confused with cold sores or fever blisters. Cold sores or fever blisters are fluid filled sores that are caused by a virus and are contagious. These sores, unlike canker sores, typically occur on the outside of the lips and mouth. Canker sores are small ulceration of the oral mucosa, inside the mouth.


Canker sores usually resolve themselves within in a few days, but treatment with a dental laser will bring immediate relief.  If you are experiencing ongoing problems with canker sores, talk with a reputable dentist, such as Dr. Halina Montano, about this safe and effective treatment.

There are many homemade remedies to tackle mouth ulceration including the following:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water
  • Hold a chamomile tea bag against the sores
  • Cleanse your mouth with herb like sage
  • Dab the sores with coconut oil
  • Place a small wax capping over the surface of your teeth or braces to lessen the friction between the sore and the other objects inside the mouth.
  • Apply a cotton ball soaked in clove oil to the sore
  • Apply organic raw honey to the sore
  • Rinse with water mixed with aloe Vera gel
  • Eat yogurt containing live cultures
  • Mix ground cayenne pepper with warm water to form a thick paste and apply to the sore inside mouth
  • Rinse your mouth with milk of magnesia mixed with Benadryl liquid.

Topical gels or ointments are also used to reduce pain of canker sores and prevent infection.


When it comes to canker sores, focusing on prevention is much easier than trying to find a cure. Here are some measures that you can take to prevent initial ulceration:

  • Avoid acidic and spicy food, such as citrus fruits and acidic vegetables
  • Brush your teeth regularly after meals. Food particles left inside your mouth after meals could be a major contributor to the formation of a canker sore.
  • Use a soft toothbrush and avoid toothpaste containing SLS.

When To Consult Your Doctor or Dentist?

Though canker sores have no formal treatment protocol, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor or dentist if the ulceration does not heal readily. There could be instances where the oral sores can become a cause of worry and one should not waste any time in seeing the doctor then. If you have the following symptoms, don’t hesitate to see your doctor or dentist for evaluation.

  • Alarmingly big sores that are not usual
  • Spreading sores
  • Sores that refuse to lessen and continue over weeks
  • General medication fails to cure the sores
  • High fever

If you have questions or concerns about canker sores or other dental matters, consult a reputable dentist such as Dr. Hanlina Montano.  At HSM Dental Group we are happy to address all of your dental needs, both general and cosmetic. Call us today at (561) 232-2070 and let our team of professionals assist you! You’ll be glad you did!