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Are you a canker sore sufferer? Do you know the difference between a canker sore and a cold sore? If you struggle with frequent canker sores, we can offer some advice and help, including one treatment that can provide immediate relief.

First, let’s distinguish between a canker sore and a cold sore. Canker sores are open sores on the gums, lips, or tongue that occur inside the mouth. A person may have one or multiple canker sores in their mouth at a time and they are not contagious. A cold sore is a cluster of small red fluid filled blisters that occurs on or around the lips and generally outside of the mouth. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are contagious.

Now that you know the difference, what causes a canker sore? The short answer is, we don’t exactly know. They may be triggered by stress, viral infections, or due to an autoimmune response. Canker sore sufferers also report injury to the mouth (accidentally biting your lip), acidic foods, smoking, and stress as additional triggers.

If you have a canker sore what can you do? Canker sores can be incredibly painful and inhibit your ability to eat and drink food comfortably. Try the following tips to ease discomfort.

For immediate relief: We can perform a short treatment in our office using a product called Debacterol. The treatment brings immediate relief from discomfort in a manner of seconds. I have personally used it in my family and found it to be incredibly effective. Don’t let the “in-office” portion of the treatment scare you. Treatment takes only a few minutes and is very affordable. Debacterol is also available for at home use, but requires a prescription and should not be used if you have a sulfa allergy.

Over the counter relief: There are various products available at your local pharmacy that may provide relief to your sores, and you can also try making a simple salt water rinse (1 teaspoon salt mixed with 1 cup of water), which may speed up the healing process.

My favorite “at home” tip: Listerine. Sound surprising? Daily using Listerine in my own family has reduced canker sore outbreaks significantly. It is a simple and inexpensive tip to try that may prevent future pain. For more moderate to severe cases of canker sores a prescription for “magic mouthwash” is available. An option for prevention our Hygiene Manager recommends is daily intake of a L-lysine supplement which can be found in the vitamin section of most grocery stores. Finally, take care of yourself. In our household, we find that canker sores commonly occur with cold and flu viruses. Making healthy lifestyle choices such as a healthy diet, exercise, and plenty of sleep can boost the immune system and may reduce your propensity towards canker sores.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Heather Schmitke
Administrative Support
Wendel Family Dental Centre