Most of us get a small annoying canker sore once or twice a year, which usually goes away in a week or so. But a small percentage of the population gets frequent outbreaks of painful cankers. While the exact cause of canker sores is still unknown. We do know that weather changes, stress, oral hygiene, citrus and spicy foods, can contribute to painful canker sores.
Poor oral health likely promotes formation of canker sores. The bacteria living in plaque build-up that accumulates on teeth can irritate soft tissue (gums and cheeks.) Keeping your teeth free from plaque and calculus build-up is important to prevent canker sores from forming. Seeing a dental professional routinely for a 6 month dental cleaning helps keep teeth free from plaque build-up.
A common toothpaste ingredient called Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can also cause canker sores. SLS is a soft tissue irritant that’s also found in shampoo, soaps, and household cleaning products. Companies use it in toothpaste because it creates foaming action when we brush our teeth. Below are some some toothpastes without SLS to keep those pearly whites healthy.
- Tom’s of Maine toothpaste
- Burt’s Bee Natural Toothpaste
- Auromere SLS Free Herbal Toothpaste
- Rembrandt Premium Whitening Mint Toothpaste
- Cardamon-fennel Herbal Toothpaste
- Sensodyne ProNamel Mint Essense Toothpaste
- Hello Toothpaste
- Arm & Hammer Toothpaste
Although, there are many products on the market that can alleviate the symptoms of a painful canker, they cannot expedite the healing. The canker sore normally runs its course for 1-2 weeks. If a canker sore persists for 3 weeks or longer please see your dentist.
How to prevent canker sores?
Different types of stress on the body can cause oral canker sores to break out in some people. Those stresses can include; sickness, lack of sleep, poor diet, acidic food, physical trauma, SLS in toothpaste, and a large bacterial load in the mouth due to significant plaque/tartar build-up.
Many stressors causing canker sores can be managed by getting enough sleep, keeping a healthy diet, avoiding foods that are very acidic, and avoiding toothpaste with SLS as an ingredient. To reduce the amount of bacterial load, it’s recommended to have a dental cleaning every six months for removal of plaque and tartar.
What to do about Canker Sores?
Most canker sores will resolve in 5-7 days on their own. We recommend keeping the mouth extra clean by rinsing after meals. A warm salt water rinse is a great option. If your canker sore persists or you get them very frequently discuss with your dentists. Your dentist may prescribe an ointment containing Triamcinolone which will reduce the discomfort caused by canker sores.