skip to Main Content

Canker Sores Explained

Canker Sores Explained

Not to be mixed up with cold sores, aphthous ulcers (canker sores) that form are not contagious and show up on the inside of the mouth only.

Approximately one in five of the population suffers from canker sores.

These sores can easily be recognized by their oval shape with a red border, and usually a gray, yellow or white center. Canker sores can be painful, but most will go away by themselves (without treatment) in a short time.


The true causes of canker sores are unclear, though a likely factor is heredity. Women are affected almost at double the rate of men by these sores and they tend to afflict people who are 10 to 20 years old. They regularly occur at the location of mouth injuries, and connections have been identified between stress and canker sores. A chemical found in many types of toothpaste and mouthwashes, sodium lauryl sulfate, has been found to have links to canker sores as well. And, lastly, canker sores might be an indication of problems of the immune system.

Canker sores come in three varieties. While the majority of canker sores are minor ones, there are also major and herpetiform canker sores. The Mayo Clinic has more to read about these other kinds on their page on canker sores.

Treatment for a canker sore:

No form of treatment is usually required if you are suffering from a minor canker sore. However, there are a few actions you can take to avoid additional pain.
– Stay away from foods that might be hard or scratchy, as well as spicy foods, as these will irritate the wound.
– Don’t brush the canker sore with your toothbrush.
– Use a toothpaste that doesn’t have sodium lauryl sulfate.


– Be mindful of foods which irritate your mouth.
– Make sure you’re getting proper nutrition—avoid vitamin deficiency
– For individuals with braces, orthodontic wax can protect your mouth from injury.
– Reduce or eliminate stress.

Call Dr. Sulken, Dr. Kinn, or your regular doctor if you’re suffering from a canker sore that doesn’t seem to heal, or is larger than normal or especially painful.

Back To Top Skip to content