What are Mouth Sores?
Mouth sores (also known as canker sores, mouth ulcers, and aphthous ulcers) are tiny gashes that show up around your cheeks, gums, and inner lips. They are usually white in appearance and protrude quite a bit as well, making accidentally biting it a lot easier. While not a serious wound, mouth sores can be painful and affect how you talk and eat.
Anybody can get a mouth sore, but they’re most prevalent among female teenagers and young adults.
There are multiple causes of mouth sores.
The first cause is some sort of abrasion. This could be braces rubbing against the inside of your cheek, accidentally biting the inner part of your lip, or not wearing a mouth guard when playing sports.
Another cause is a sensitive mouth. If you’re allergic to certain foods like coffee, nuts, and eggs, or use oral hygiene products with sodium lauryl sulfate, then you’re more likely to develop mouth sores.
Your health can also contribute to mouth sores. If you’re lacking in vitamin B-12, zinc, and/or folic acid, or if you’re emotionally drained due to hormones or stress in real life, you’re at risk for mouth sores.
Mouth sores can also be symptoms of something more serious like Celiac disease, HIV/AIDS, and bowel diseases like Crohn’s.
Most of the time, mouth sores don’t need medical treatments. You can easily find stuff around the house that will make them go away in less than a day.
Homemade Mouth Rinse
There are a couple of mouth rinses you can make with common household items.
First, mix equal parts salt and water and rinse. This is one of the oldest tried and tested home remedies for canker sores, and it can get rid of one in less than a day!
If you’d rather not have salt, you can mix a teaspoon of baking soda with half a cup of warm water instead.
Milk of Magnesia
Get a clean Q-tip with some milk of magnesia and apply it directly to the sore three to four times a day. This will help lessen the pain and speed up the healing process.
As someone who had braces for two years, I know what it’s like to have a mouth sore with violent reactions to certain foods. Avoid acidic foods like pineapple and salt and vinegar chips, and also spicy foods like instant ramen and buffalo wings! Trust me, the pain and discomfort are not worth the craving.
Is the pain too hard to handle? Get an ice cube from the fridge, pop it into your mouth, and let it melt slowly and soothingly over the sore. It’s easy and immediate pain relief!
Better Brushing Habits
When you have a mouth sore that’s sensitive to the slightest touch, the last thing you want to do is bump against it with the head of your toothbrush. So, when you’re brushing or flossing your teeth, make sure to be careful around your sore mouth.
Additionally, use a more sensitive toothpaste that’s free of any foaming agents. Try Sensodyne.
If your mouth sore is larger than usual, or if they continue to persist for weeks even with home treatments, then it would be a good idea to visit your doctor or dentist. They can prescribe you medications and give you the advice to help get rid of them for good.
There are several antibacterial over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help treat mouth sores. These usually contain benzocaine (e.g., Anbesol, Orabase), fluocinonide (e.g., Lidex, Vanos), and hydrogen peroxide (e.g., peroxyl).
A doctor or dentist might prescribe dexamethasone, which is a steroid that lessens pain and inflammation in a sore. It’s a mouthwash that can treat multiple mouth sores at once.
There are medications for other diseases that work well for mouth sores too, like Carafate (usually for ulcer treatments) and colchicine (usually for gout treatments).
Cautery involves chemicals that burn and destroy soft tissue. They reduce healing time considerably and provide instant pain relief. Examples of cautery solutions include Debacterol and silver nitrate.
As we mentioned earlier, people who lack certain vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B-12 and zinc are at risk of developing mouth sores. Your dentist or doctor might recommend eating more foods with these like meat, eggs, and milk, or taking supplements.
Mouth sores aren’t usually something to be worried about, but they can be a real hassle to deal with. Luckily, treatment is easily available for mouth sores, and they can be avoided altogether if you follow a proper diet and take care of your oral health.