Healthy Living

What are Canker Sores?

What are Canker Sores?

Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that develop in the lining of the mouth. These are one of the most common mouth ulcers, and the sores make eating difficult. Studies show that about 20% of the population suffer from these painful sores. Canker sores are classified into simple and complex sores. Simple canker sores are often seen in people under the 20-years-old, and may last only for a week or so. Complex canker sores, on the other hand, are often found in people who have had them earlier and are less common, when compared to simple sores.


The actual cause of this condition is not yet known. Two factors that increase the risk of sores in mouth include stress and tissue injury. Injury to the lining of the mouth may be caused by a defective tooth brush, a sharp tooth surface, braces, or dentures. Certain foods, like oranges, lemons, pineapples, and tomatoes are also known to cause the formation of these sores. Health issues, including vitamin or mineral deficiency, Celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease, have canker sores as one of the common symptoms. A number of drugs are also known to cause mouth ulcers.

You can identify canker sores from the burning sensation in some part of the mouth, which usually starts before the appearance of the sores. Sores are usually present in the mouth lining, like the inside of the cheeks or soft palate. Some people may also have it on the tongue. The sores have round edges and are normally grey or whitish in appearance. When the sores are severe, people may complain of fever, swelling in the lymph nodes, and the individual may become drowsy.

Canker sores usually resolve on its own without any specific treatment. The sores are found to heal without treatment. In severe forms of sores, antimicrobial mouth rinse, ointments containing corticosteroids, or over-the-counter solutions are used to control the condition. These treatments help to alleviate the pain and irritation associated with the sores.

Some of the proven methods to prevent the formation of sores are to avoid the triggers like specific foods and using soft brushes for cleaning the teeth. One should visit the physician if sores are unusually large and painful, are spreading rapidly to other parts of the mouth, and have fever associated with the appearance of the sores.