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What Triggers a Canker Sore?

A canker sore, a shallow ulcer that can develop on the inside of the cheeks or lips, can mean days of discomfort.

Different things can trigger a canker sore. The most common are a bitten lip or cheek (which only becomes easier to bite again when it swells), long periods of stress and the strain that puts on the immune system, illness, poking braces wires or ill-fitting dentures, and highly acidic foods like lemons, strawberries, tomatoes, and pineapple.

Avoiding Triggers

Anyone who frequently develops canker sores should identify the triggers and try to avoid them, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This could mean cutting back on acidic foods, using dental wax during orthodontic treatment, and reducing stress levels.

Tips for Managing a Canker Sore

Here are a few tips to help with canker sores when they appear:

1. Rinse with warm salt water to help the healing process.
2. Use painkillers or topical medication to reduce discomfort.
3. Find a toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium laurel sulfate (it should still contain fluoride though).
4. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
5. Eat a diet rich in vitamin B12, iron, and folate (good sources include carrots, salmon, parsley, spinach, kale, and yogurt).
6. Maintain good oral hygiene habits. It’s easier to maintain good oral health when plaque is under control.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.