Canker sores are small sores occurring inside the mouth.  They might also appear on the tongue and in the cheeks and other movable parts of the mouth such as the lips. Cancer sores are painful and unsightly lesions that form in the mouth and on the lips. They are cancerous white or yellow ulcers that often appear abruptly and are surrounded by red area. Canker sores may occur with viral infections. They are characterized by a break in the mucous membrane.  They may also be concerned with the immune system of the body. Sometimes they appear alone or in small clusters. Canker sores make eating and speaking very uncomfortable. They normally affect people who are young but their occurrence slows down with age.

Canker sores result in a burning sensation at the location of the ulcer. After a few days they form a red spot or a bump which is later followed by the formation of an open ulcer that occurs due to the breakdown of the oral mucosa. If you have canker sores, you may experience a very painful swelling of the lymph nodes which may seem like a toothache, one may experience fever. Having sores in the gums may cause discomfort and pain in the teeth.

The cause of canker sores is not known exactly. The following list shows some of the factors that could lead to the development of canker sores.

  • Injuries that occur in the mouth due to conditions such as bruxism (teeth grinding) or by players who do not use a mouth guard.
  • Orthodontic attachments are a common cause  especially in the area where there is constant friction on the oral tissues. This normally happens after each subsequent adjustments at every stage of the treatment. In case one wears other orthodontic devices and is allergic to them, canker sores may begin to appear adjacent to the metal attachments. This is what is referred to as contact dermatitis.
  • In case of poor fitting, complete or partial dentures canker sores may form where the denture is rubbing on the tissue.
  • The irritating chemicals present in chewing tobacco. The canker develops in the area of the mouth where the tobacco is held.
  • Spicy, acidic, hot or cold food may lead to the formation of a canker sore as a response to the irritation these foods cause in the mouth.

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