Canker Sores and Treatments

Canker Sores and Treatments

Posted by Dr. Lee Mar 27,2023

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Canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers, are small lesions that develop inside the mouth. They typically appear as small red or white ulcers with a yellow or gray base. Canker sores aren't contagious or harmful, but they can be painful. They usually go away on their own after a week or two, but certain treatments can provide relief.

How Are Canker Sores Treated?

There are a number of over-the-counter products available to treat canker sores, and many dentists also recommend trying these first. Gels and pastes can help soothe the pain and irritation of a canker sore; however, they will not heal the sore itself or eliminate the risk of infection. Since there are several products available that can be purchased without a prescription, it's critical to consult your dentist before trying any chemical treatments on your canker sore. Your dentist may be able to give you advice about which product would be best suited to your symptoms.

If your canker sore has already progressed to the point where it is open, and there has been severe damage to your gums, you may need to see a dentist for treatment. A dentist or other healthcare professional could prescribe an antimicrobial rinse or prescription-strength corticosteroid to help speed healing and reduce the chance of infection. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the damaged tissue and ensure proper healing. The risk of this type of procedure is very low, but if you have any concerns about undergoing treatment for a canker sore, be sure to speak with your dentist before going forward.

Canker Sores vs. Cold Sores

There are different types of canker sores, but the two most common are minor and major. Major lesions tend to be very painful and filled with yellow or gray fluid. On the other hand, minor canker sores are smaller in size, less painful, and usually white in color. While most people develop canker sores as a part of their oral defensive system, others notice these lesions as the result of trauma caused by biting the cheek, brushing too hard, or consuming acidic foods. Unlike cold sores, which are caused by a virus and are not contagious, canker sores are caused by bacteria that are easily passed from person to person via saliva. In the meantime, they can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications like numbing agents or salt water rinses. For more severe cases, patients should seek treatment from their dentist or physician for faster healing.

If you wish to learn more, contact our dentist in Boston, MA, right away. For the best dental care, visit Charles Street Dental at 121 Charles St S Boston, MA, or call (617) 579-8800.

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