Cold sores and canker sores are two of the most common disorders of the mouth. They cause discomfort and are a nuisance to millions of Americans. Both conditions cause small lesions to form in or around the mouth, and often are confused with each other. Canker sores, however, occur only inside the mouth, while cold sores usually occur outside the mouth.
These painful disturbances have harassed the mouths of mankind for thousands of years. If you think you’re the only person troubled by these little devils, think again. Recurrent canker sores afflict nearly 20 percent of the general population and women are more susceptible than men. The medical term for the lesions is aphthous (af-thus) stomatitis.
An aphthous ulcer begins as a small round or oval shaped red area. The sore typically ruptures within a day or two, then a loosely attached white or yellow membrane will start to cover it. Canker sores generally heal on their own within a couple of weeks. Although there is no cure for aphthous ulcers, sufferers may be able to alleviate pain and expedite the healing process. Here are a few ideas to discuss with your dentist.
Over-the-counter or prescription medications may help reduce pain by numbing the area.
Ask your doctor about rinsing with a prescribed antibacterial solution. Some patients report increased healing and decreased pain.
Debris that accumulates on the sore may interfere with healing time. Using an over-the-counter cleansing agent can be a gentle way of lifting food fragments from the area. Never clean a sore with toothbrush bristles.
Bio-adhesive pastes have been developed to create a short-term film over wet oral tissues. When used over canker sores, this type of covering can act as a barrier to help protect the sore from irritants and also minimize pain.
Soft tissue lasers
Studies reveal that lasers can easily treat ulcers expeditiously and alleviate discomfort in a relatively short period of time. Without any injections to numb the area, lasers can be used to stimulate healing potential. Treatment is inexpensive and lasts about 15 minutes. Most patients feel relief immediately after treatment.
Unlike cold sores, cankers don’t occur on the surface of your kisser and they aren’t contagious. These little boo boos can however, be less than pleasant and make eating and talking a challenge. Ask your dentist what the best treatment option is for you.