Nearly 80 percent of Americans have experienced mouth sores at some point in their lives. This common ailment can develop on the soft tissues inside of the mouth, including the gums, lips, tongue, roof of the mouth and floor of the mouth. In most cases, the symptoms are mild and include redness, inflammation and pain.
Drinking and eating may make the symptoms worse. The size and location of the sores may make it difficult to swallow, breathe, drink or eat. Thankfully, the causes of these sores are generally mild in nature and healing mouth sores is simple.
What Causes Mouth Sores?
Mouth sores can be caused by a variety of factors; some serious and some mild. The vast majority of people suffer from mouth sores that are known as aphthous ulcers, or canker sores. These are shallow but painful sores that typically develop during times of stress, infection or when the immune system weakens. Deficiencies in certain B vitamins, folic acid, iron and zinc can also cause canker sores.
Old wives’ tales suggest that mild mouth sores are caused by tomatoes and food allergies. While it’s certainly possible for food allergies to cause these ulcers, it’s highly unlikely that tomatoes are the root cause of mild sores like canker sores.
Injuries to the mouth can also cause sores. Less common causes include certain systemic and autoimmune diseases, such as Behcet’s Syndrome, Chron’s, systemic lupus erythematosus and HIV/AIDS can lead to mouth sores. In rare cases, this problem the first signs of oral cancer.
Conventional Treatment Options
Conventional treatments for mouth sores include pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid gels. The treatment that your doctor recommends will depend on the root cause of your mouth sores.
If bacteria or fungus are causing the sores, antibiotics or other medications may be prescribed. Over-the-counter pain medications may be recommended to eliminate any discomfort caused by the sores.
Healing Mouth Sores with Home Remedies
Most minor mouth sores will go away on their own within 14 days. In some cases, they can last up to six weeks. To alleviate the pain and discomfort of these ulcers, try the following home remedies:
- Gargle with salt water. This is one of the oldest and most effective home remedies for canker sores. The salt kills and washes away germs while also helping your sores heal quickly. Simply dissolve a ½ tsp of salt in one cup of warm water, gargle and spit out the mixture.
- Apply a baking soda and water paste to the sore.
- Change your diet. This is not a quick fix for this problem, but it can help prevent them from recurring in the future. If your mouth sores are caused by nutritional deficiencies, you may need to supplement certain vitamins and minerals. Making changes to your diet can also help ensure that you receive all of the daily nutrients you need.
Avoid spicy and citrus-based foods if you have a mouth sore as these foods can irritate the ulcer and cause you more pain. Eating ice pops and other cold foods may help alleviate the pain and reduce inflammation.
As we always recommend, see your doctor first.