As a fellow sufferer of canker sores for most of my life, I am always interested in information about possible prevention and treatment. They can be quite painful and even debilitating. I still remember as a young teacher having a mouth full of large canker sores that even affected my ability to talk. They usually run a significant course as well, lasting 7-10 days.
First let’s talk about a little background on canker sores. Unlike cold sores, they are not generally believed to be caused by a virus. A number of possible causes have been proposed in the literature. Anything that might cause trauma to the tissue could be the instigation for one of these “cantankerous” cankers (a little humor here) to present. It might be as simple as over-zealous brushing or brushing with a very stiff tooth brush. Often, stress has been related to the problem as well. Many women report having them around the time of their menstrual cycle.
So what are options for treatment? There are many over the counter applications that offer some relief. But they seem to have no affect on the duration. To shorten the time span a prescription from your dentist may be required. The prescription will be for a rinse that contains chlorhexidin gluconate. This reduces the bacteria present, and thus promotes faster healing.
But in a perfect world, most of us would like to do something that would prevent them from happening in the first place. One proposal by Gerry Curatola, D.D.S. of New York University College of Dentistry, suggests trying a toothpaste that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate. This is the foaming agent present in many toothpastes. He recommends trying a natural toothpaste without this ingredient. Research also suggests a daily supplement of l-lysine may help to prevent canker sores.
The good news is they go away and offer no threat to your health so try to keep smiling!