Most people get canker sores — those annoying little ulcers inside of your mouth — occasionally, but they can be especially painful and irritating to wearers of orthodontic braces.

The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but contrary to popular belief, they are not the result of a bacterial or viral infection, nor are they contagious. Some medical professionals have theorized that they are caused by certain ingredients found in toothpastes and mouthwashes, while others say that they may be the result of stress or an immune disorder. People with food allergies or intolerances also report to have the sores more often than others.

Canker sores usually go away on their own within one to two weeks. There are many over-the-counter gels and protective films that you can swab over a sore that may shorten the healing time. Home remedies include rinsing your mouth with salt water three to four times a day and avoiding eating acidic foods. If your canker sores are especially bad, your orthodontist may give you a prescription mouthwash. For mouth ulcers that seem to last longer than two weeks, it is advised that you receive medical treatment.

If your brackets are rubbing against a canker sore, apply dental wax or silicone to form a barrier. This can be used in combination with topical gels. 

You may need to try several remedies to figure out what works for you. If you have problems or questions about how canker sores may affect your braces, don't hesitate to contact a New York City orthodontist who will be happy to provide you with suggestions.

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