What are canker sores?

Canker sore is the name for a painful, open sore in the mouth that is medically known as aphthous ulcer. The sores are not contagious and are small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in the mouth and gums.

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Canker sores are more common in women than men. Most commonly, canker sores first appear between the ages of 10 and 40. Canker sores may result from mouth injury, viral infections, hormonal shifts, an abnormal immune system, or a diet low in nutrients.

Signs and symptoms of canker sores can last for about one week. The disease course varies among individuals. Some people with canker sores have one painful red spot that develops into an open ulcer that is usually white or yellow, while others may have swollen lymph nodes, fever, and more than one canker sore at a time. Fortunately, you can treat canker sores successfully with over-the-counter remedies to reduce pain. Even better, you can reduce your risk of canker sores by carefully brushing your teeth so as not to injure your mouth, eating a nutritious diet, and reducing stress.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) and difficulty swallowing or breathing.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for canker sores but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of canker sores?

Canker sores cause a local area of inflammation in the mouth that may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.... Read more about canker soressymptoms

CAUSES

What causes canker sores?

A variety of factors can cause canker sores, including injury during tooth brushing, dental work, trauma or emotional stress, hormonal changes, spicy foods, and nutrient deficiencies. The sores occur commonly with viral infections. In some cases, the cause cannot be identified.... Read more about canker sorescauses

TREATMENTS

How are canker sores treated?

Treatment for canker sores does not normally require medical care from your health care provider unless the symptoms cause you concern or are persistent. If you experience more than three canker sores in one year you should contact your health care provider.... Read more about canker sorestreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health