7 Reasons Why You Keep Getting Canker Sores
Canker sores are a common nuisance that can turn your morning glass of orange juice into a body-jolting glass of pain. The sores can develop virtually anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, palate and inside of the cheeks. Everyone is at risk of canker sores, but they tend to be more prevalent in people between the ages of 10 to 20 and among women. Minor sores typically last a few days or a week.
Although the pain associated with canker sores typically is minimal, persistent, recurrent canker sores can interfere with your day and impact the sorts of food and drink you’re able to eat. One of the hurdles in preventing canker sores is that there’s not a clear consensus vis-a-vis exactly what causes them. However there are a number of generally agreed upon triggers that can contribute to cankers sores, or make them worse/last longer.
Here are seven common triggers of canker sores and their potential solutions.
One of the most common triggers for canker sores is biting your lip or tongue when eating. Braces wearers often experience canker sores as well as they adjust to having the orthodontic appliance in their mouth. Any sort of injury or trauma to the soft tissues of the mouth can result in a canker sore.
Solution: Avoiding injury altogether is impossible given its unpredictable nature. But you can limit your risk of injury by using a mouth guard when playing sports. You can also adjust your eating and/or dietary habits to avoid foods that might cause problems (crusty bread, large bites, etc.).
2. Vitamin Deficiency
Do you take a daily multivitamin? If the answer is “no” and you’ve been experiencing recurrent canker sores, you might be dealing with vitamin deficiency; specifically vitamin B. Studies have shown that vitamin B12 treatment is effective in combatting recurrent canker sores. Getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables can be a challenge, meaning that vitamin B12 deficiency is fairly common among children. If your child is complaining about canker sores, this could be the issue.
Solution: Make sure a multivitamin is part of your daily dietary regimen, or at the very least consider taking a B12 supplement. There are a number of child-friendly vitamin brands that can help make taking a daily vitamin something your child enjoys.
3. Nutritional Deficiency
An inadequate intake of vitamin B12 isn’t the only deficiency that could lead to recurrent canker sores. General nutritional deficiencies also play a role in the frequency of developing sores. Specifically, a deficient level of zinc, iron, calcium and folic acid can trigger canker sores or (in the case of calcium deficiency) worsen them, prolonging their duration.
Solution: Maintain a healthy, balanced diet rich in all food groups. Beef, shrimp and kidney beans are packed with zinc. Eggs, liver, chickpeas and black beans are rich in iron. Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, and you can find folic acid in dark leafy greens, citrus fruits and avocado. These are merely examples. Speak with a nutritionist or do some searches online to develop the perfect diet for combatting canker-causing deficiencies.
4. Dental Hygiene
Crazy as it sounds, your dental hygiene practices might actually be the root of your canker sore problems. Overzealous tooth brushing can stress or cause an abrasion on the gums or cheeks to such an extent that canker sores may develop. Similarly, overuse of dental products like alcohol-based mouthwashes can damage the various tissues of the mouth and cause sores. It’s not uncommon for people affected by hygiene-related recurrent canker sores to think that they’re actually not doing enough in terms of brushing, flossing or rinsing, essentially worsening their condition.
Solution: Try switching to a softer bristle toothbrush and an alcohol-free mouthwash. If you brush your teeth after meals, try chewing sugar-free gum instead. Don’t brush your teeth for longer than two minutes at a time, and pay attention to the pressure you’re applying. Mechanical toothbrushes are available that alert you when to stop brushing and whether you are brushing too vigorously. Even smart toothbrushes exist that record your brushing data, letting you share it with your dentist for evaluation. Speak with your dentist about the many ways that you can improve your hygiene habits.
Women tend to get canker sores more frequently than men and part of this might be tied to one particular trigger: hormones. The hormonal shifts that occur during menstruation are significant enough that it can cause a number of oral health issues, including swollen salivary glands, swollen and bleeding gums, and canker sores. Similar hormonal shifts during pregnancy can cause a number of gum-related issues such as pregnancy gingivitis and gum disease. (Read more about oral health and pregnancy.) Hormonal irregularities can also affect the oral health of males; it’s simply more prevalent among females.
Solution: The hormonal shifts are unavoidably natural, meaning that you’ll have to try and counter potential oral health effects another way. Maintain a healthy diet rich in vitamins, and brush and floss regularly (but not too vigorously) to keep dental hygiene in check. If you’re menstrual cycle continues to cause canker sores, speak with your doctor for further evaluation.
Everyone deals with some degree of stress in their life in one form another. But did you know that it can actually impact oral health? Stress can alter body chemistry, which in turn can lead to a heightened risk of things like inflammation and mouth sores. Additionally, stress has been linked with things like gum disease, TMJ disorder and teeth grinding.
Solution: There isn’t always a quick fix or one time solution for managing stress. Some people tackle stress through meditation. Some people go for a run, or hit the gym. Some people just need a night out with friends or someone to talk to. The important thing is simply finding something that works for you. This will help offset associated oral (and general) health issues.
7. Autoimmune Disorders & Other Medical Conditions
Immune system irregularities can lead to your body attacking healthy cells in your mouth causing canker sores. This is one of a number of general health conditions that can have canker sores as a symptom. Bowel conditions like Celiac and Crohn’s have also been linked with causing the sort of systemic inflammation that can result in canker sores in the mouth.
Solution: When it comes to systemic conditions, the best you can really do is speak with your doctor about managing your condition to limit issues such as canker sores. Maintaining proper dental hygiene and a healthy, nutritious diet and active lifestyle will all help to limit any such effects in conjunction with a treatment plan designed by your doctor.