Home » Canker sores: what they are, what causes them, how to treat and prevent them

Canker sores: what they are, what causes them, how to treat and prevent them

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Canker sores: what they are, what causes them, how to treat and prevent them
What am I

For some people, and they are not few, canker sores are a real torment. These small sores that develop inside the mouth are the hallmark of a common disease, known as aphthous stomatitiswhich mainly affects young people between the ages of 10 and 35.

What are the causes

«The cause of aphthous stomatitis they are not entirely clearbut a genetic predisposition is evident: in half of the cases there is in fact a familiarity – he began Silvio Abati, associate professor of odontostomatological diseases at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan —. These are not infectious lesions, much less contagious. The mechanism underlying their formation is immunological: in practice there is an immune reaction under the oral mucosa which gives rise to an inflammatory infiltrate which causes the destruction of the more superficial layer of cells (epithelium). A typical canker sore initially appears as a small papule, i.e. a swelling of the mucous membrane which then turns into a yellowish-white ulcer with a red halo. Foot-and-mouth hurts and the pain gets worse if you eat acidic or savory foods».

The factors that favor canker sores

Although the causes of mouth ulcers are not clear, it has however been seen that some factors can favor their development in predisposed people. Among them are accidental biting of the tongue or cheeks, psycho-physical stress, some irritating food for that person (typically dried fruit, pepper, or other strong spice); nutritional deficiencies, for example of iron, folic acid or vitamin B12. «Lesions similar to canker sores are also often detected in people suffering from particular pathologies such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, neutropenia and familial Mediterranean fever» Abati points out.

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When is it better to explore?

The act they appear mainly on the thinnest mucous membranes of the mouthparticularly on the cheeks, under the tongue and inside the lips, and in general they hurt for four or five days and in seven, ten days they heal. “Whoever is predisposed to develop canker sores has an average of five or six episodes a year, sometimes even more. When canker sores appear frequently it is worth doing some investigations to evaluate whether their presence is associated with diseases such as celiac disease, iron deficiency or other conditions, which also allows you to set up a targeted therapy. If, for example, it is discovered that the subject is celiac, one will be proposed gluten free diet, hoping it will also lead to the resolution of canker sores» suggests the expert. Not only, se the canker sore does not heal within a couple of weeks it is advisable to have a check-up with an oral medicine specialist.

“It is important not to mistake something more serious for canker sores: an oral ulcer that does not heal it could also be the alarm bell of an oral tumor» points out Abati.

How can ulcers be treated and what are the remedies

As for the treatments unfortunately there are no miracle cures: once the ulcer has formed, it takes time for the layer of cells that fills this «hole» to reconstitute. However, there are preparations, to be applied locally, which reduce burning and promote faster healing. “Gods can be used gels containing antiseptics which prevent the colonization of foot-and-mouth by mouth bacteria – Abati points out -. These products go applied two or three times a day and can be associated with the use of protective gels to be placed before meals in order to reduce pain while eating. Sometimes in particularly insidious cases, the specialist can also propose a more aggressive approach, for example with low-dose cortisone ».

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Then there are some precautions that can help not to worsen the situation in the acute phase and partly also to prevent relapses. «First of all, we must try not to traumatize the inside of the mouth: if you have sharp teeth, you can evaluate a slight sanding. We also recommend lilimit the consumption of alcoholfollow a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables in such a way as to also prevent any nutritional deficiencies, have good oral hygiene, possibly preferring non-irritating toothpastes without particular flavourings» concludes the expert.

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