Dental Health Topics

What Are Canker Sores And How To Get Rid Of Them

What Are Canker Sores And How To Get Rid Of Them

There’s hardly anything more irritating than a canker sore. Sure, they’re tiny, and only last a few days, but wow, when you’ve got one, just about every word spoken and every bite taken hurts like “all get-out.” You know that feeling, right? So, what exactly are those little buggers, and how in the world can you ease the pain fast? We’ll fill you in, and share our “canker-sore-be-gone” grocery list that’ll help save the day.

A Canker, Defined.

To know the medically proper name for a canker sore is to understand why the heck it hurts so much.  A canker sore is actually an ulcer. An “Aphthous Ulcer,” to be exact. These mighty painful ulcers come in two forms, minor and major, and are surprisingly experienced by only about 20% of the U.S. population. Aren’t we lucky?!
Minor cankers (common in people between the ages of 10 and 20), are the smaller of the two, as the name would suggest, and last about 7-10 days. Major cankers can last from two to six weeks, have noticeable depth, and often have irregular borders. This type of sore is more common after the age of 20, and is essentially a recurrent canker, returning to a site previously impacted by a minor canker.

Why You Get Canker Sores

While cankers affect both genders, women do tend to get them more often, likely because of hormonal fluctuations, and the vast majority of people in general are believed to get cankers due to genetic tendencies. Some people notice they have certain triggers that result in these little ulcers, with items that are spicy, salty, or abrasive topping the list. So, if you’re prone to getting canker sores, you might wish to limit your intake of spicy potato chips.
If you’re among the unlucky 20% of people gifted with canker sore genetics, there is hope! You can arrest the pain and speed up the healing process with a short shopping list:

Defeating Canker Sores 

  • Rinses (use one of the below rinses four times a day)
    Hydrogen Peroxide – Equal parts peroxide and water
    Salt and baking soda – Add a half teaspoon of both to 4oz. of water
  • Numbing Agents
    Brands like Orajel® and Kank-A® can provide relief
  • Protective Pastes
    Milk of Magnesia – dab on a cotton swab and use four times daily after the hydrogen peroxide rinse.
    Baking Soda and Water Paste
  • Antimicrobial Mouthwashes
If you have a sore lasting beyond the two-week mark, make an appointment to see your doctor to evaluate your case. Prescription medications might be necessary, and can help bring the relief you’d no doubt be seeking should one last that long.