They may be small, but boy do they cause a huge amount of discomfort. Everyone has experienced the throbbing pain of canker sores at some point, but what causes them, and why are some patients more prone to getting them than others? From children to grandparents, canker sores can impact all mouths and be an ongoing source of frustration and irritation for some. Can they be prevented? If not, what can be done to lessen the discomfort and pain?
Good News is Canker Sores Aren’t Viral or Bacterial
If there is a silver lining to the story, it’s that canker sores are not a viral or bacterial response, but are connected to the body’s immune system and how it responds to certain stimuli. When we’re talking immune system response, we’re talking allergic reactions, stress, and response to trauma – all of which can drive down our immunity and trigger tissue changes. Auto-immune responses can also play a role in the development of a canker sore – when the body attacks itself without reason, mouth sores, hives, and rashes are often the result.
Is Food a Trigger for Canker Sores?
Certain foods can definitely instigate an outbreak of mouth ulcers – citrus foods like lemons, limes, and tomatoes are often triggers, as is spicy food that irritates oral tissue. And if your canker sore wasn’t triggered by citrusy or spicy food, it definitely will be irritated by these food groups, delaying healing due to ongoing tissue irritation. If you have a suspicion that your mouth ulcers are the result of certain food groups try to reduce your exposure to these foods, especially during an outbreak.
Can Oral Trauma Result in a Canker Sore?
The correct term for Canker Sores is Aphthous Ulcers, and refers to an opening in a bodily membrane. In the case of mouth ulcers, the bodily membrane is oral tissue that can be inadvertently damaged with trauma such as biting in to something sharp, using a toothbrush with overly hard bristles, and being exposed to irritating oral appliances like orthodontic hardware. Once oral tissue has been injured, the body’s natural response is to try and heal it – hence the small blister-like-ulcer that appears at trauma sites.
Eating a balanced diet that is packed with vitamins and minerals may help combat the frequency and duration of canker sores, but staying away from irritating foods – even if they’re deemed healthy – is essential for tissue repair.