Aphthous Ulcers

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

Aphthous mouth ulcers, known commonly as canker sores, can be very uncomfortable. Daily routines like eating, drinking, oral hygiene methods can cause pain. The cause of aphthous ulcers is unclear but can be triggered by stress, vitamin deficiency (B-12, zinc, folate, iron), food sensitivities, mouth trauma, hormonal changes, sodium lauryl sulfate found in some toothpastes and rinses (Mayo Clinic). The sores may occur because of conditions like Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, weakened immune system (Mayo Clinic). Treating the ulcers include managing the symptoms. This can be done with steroid or anesthetic mouth rinses, pastes/creams/gels like Anbesol, Orabase, Lidex, Orajel, salt water or baking soda rinses, application of milk of magnesia to the site, avoiding the ulcers when eating, and applying ice (Mayo Clinic). Under ideal circumstances, the ulcers will resolve in 7-14 days. If they persists or in case of larger ulcers, consultation with your dentist is necessary.