Canker sores are shallow lesions that occur on the inside of the lips, cheeks, gums, or tongue. While they are small, they can still be very painful and they can take up to two weeks to completely disappear. Teens and young adults are much more prone to getting canker sores, and women in general get canker sores more than men. If you are at a higher risk for developing canker sores, there are a few canker sore prevention tips you should follow.
Canker Sore Triggers
Though the exact cause of canker sores is not known, there do seem to be certain “triggers” that can result in an outbreak. If you are able to identify your personal triggers, you can avoid these things and therefore avoid future bouts of canker sores. Common triggers include toothpastes and mouthwashes that include sodium lauryl sulfate, certain chewing gums and lozenges, tobacco, citrus fruits, and certain drugs such as NSAIDS, beta blockers, and chemotherapy.
Preventing Canker Sores
Besides foods and other things that are ingested, there are other factors that contribute to the occurrence of canker sores. Knowing as much as you can about the potential causes makes it easier to have a prevention plan. Here are some things you can do to prevent canker sores:
- Protect your mouth. – Often, canker sores form as a response to a small injury in the mouth caused by dental appliances such as braces or contact-related sports injuries. If you have braces or other dental appliances that have sharp or pointy edges, apply orthodontic wax to those areas to protect your mouth from being irritated. If you are playing sports where mouth injuries are a risk, wear a mouth guard to keep your teeth from cutting your lips or gums.
- Reduce stress. – Many canker sore occurrences are related to times of increased stress. It can be helpful to try to learn stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation or yoga. These can help you to maintain a lower, more consistent stress level which will prevent physical responses to stress that include canker sore outbreaks.
- Improve your diet. – Besides avoiding spicy or acidic foods that irritate your mouth, go a step further by choosing healthy foods like vegetables and whole grains. Foods like yogurt, salads, and raw onions are all good for canker sore prevention. These kinds of foods can help to prevent nutritional deficiencies, which can also lead to canker sores. It is also helpful to take vitamin and mineral supplements such as vitamin B-12, iron, folic acid, and zinc.
- Practice good hygiene. – Brushing your teeth after meals and flossing regularly will keep your mouth free from foods and unwanted bacteria that can lead to the development of sores. Also, when brushing your teeth, make sure to use a soft brush that will not irritate the delicate tissues of the mouth, as rigorous brushing can also cause canker sores as well.