As Mouth Healthy, a division of the American Dental Association (ADA), explains, canker sores usually develop inside the mouth as small white or gray areas with a red border. They may appear as one sore or in a group. While their exact cause is unknown, many experts believe they stem from immune system problems, bacteria and viruses.
What is the treatment for canker sores?
Canker sores tend to heal on their own within one or two weeks. If the sore is particularly painful, you can get an over-the-counter topical anesthetic and antimicrobial mouthwash, which provide temporary relief. Your dentist may also be able to provide antibiotics and oral bandages to reduce the risk of secondary infection.
In addition, it is important to avoid certain foods that irritate the sore. These include anything that is hot, spicy or acidic (even citrus fruits can cause irritation). If you have canker sores, you can ease discomfort by eating relatively simple and bland foods, such as:
- Low-fat milk and other dairy foods
- Cooked, canned and frozen vegetables
- Mashed potatoes
- Cooked or canned fruit, including applesauce with no added sugar
- Hot cereals like oatmeal and cream of wheat (you can pair the cereal with milk to boost nutrition)
- Soft cooked and shredded chicken, beef and pork
- Creamy-style peanut butter
- Scrambled or fried eggs
While canker sores can be unpleasant and sometimes painful, it is important to remember that they're usually not serious. By following the tips above, you can help ensure that the sore goes away within one to two weeks.
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