What is Canker Sore?

Canker Sore is a wound in the mouth that can cause pain and discomfort. It is also the most common type of mouth ulcers among people. These painful but non-contagious sores usually appear on the inner portion of the cheeks and lips, the upper area of the mouth, on the tongue, and at the gums.

Anyone can be affected by a canker sore. However, this condition is mostly experienced by adolescents aged 10 to 19 years because they are lack of maintaining oral hygiene or damage to the mucous membranes in the oral cavity. The symptoms that appear are usually not severe and can be recovered without medical treatment within one to two weeks.

Canker Sore - Treatment, Causes, and Symptoms

Canker Sore Causes

The scientists have not completely determined what really causes the canker sore. However, it may appear because of many factors such as certain events or environmental, emotional or dietary reasons. The following are some factors that can lead to this condition:

  • Mouth injuries or damage due to dental work, intense tooth brushing, sports accidents or accidental cheek bites
  • The side effects of drugs or methods of treatment
  • Hormonal changes during menstruation
  • Food sensitivities or allergies
  • Using a toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Emotional stress
  • Certain diseases such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, reactive arthritis, weak immune systems, Behcet’s disease, and viral infections

Canker Sore Symptoms

A canker sore can be characterized by injury or multiple injuries that appear in the mouth. These are round or oval lesions that are either white or yellow and surrounded by red and inflamed soft tissue. Based on its size, ulcer sores can be divided into three namely minor, major, and herpatiformis.

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  • Ulcer sores minor have a diameter of about 1 cm
  • Ulcer sores mayor have a diameter of 2-3 cm and can grow in the sky of the mouth or tongue
  • Ulcer sores herpatiformis is a type of ulcers that rarely occur. The wound size is only 1-2 millimeters in diameter and tends to grow in clusters (consisting of 10 to 100 cuts)
Canker Sore - Treatment, Causes, and Symptoms


The most canker sore can recover by themselves within one to two weeks. However, if the sores are large and painful, medical attention may be needed like:

  • Pain relief drugs may be given in the form of mouthwash, spray, or gel such as benzocaine cream and lidocaine
  • Corticosteroid drugs can relieve pain and speed healing such as dexamethasone, triaciomonole, fluocinoide, and clobetasol
  • Antimicrobial drugs can speed healing and prevent infection of the wound such as tetracycline, chlorhexidene gluconate, and hydrogen peroxide
  • Immunosuppressant drugs can inhibit the formation of wounds in the mouth and are usually reserved for patients with severe cases of canker sore. The drugs are cochline, clofazimine, azathioprine, and thalidomide.

Besides topical medicine, natural remedies can be an option. The following are natural remedies that you can try.

  • Milk of magnesia or magnesium hydroxide
  • Natural mouth rinse by saltwater or baking soda water on a canker sore
  • Ice
  • Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties
  • Honey contains antibacterial and potential anti-inflammatory properties