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Understanding Canker Sores -- the Basics

What Are Canker Sores?

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are annoying irritations inside the mouth that afflict as many as 20% of Americans. They are different from cold sores, which usually appear on the outside of the mouth on the lips. 

Canker sores appear most commonly in adolescents and young adults. They are also more likely to appear around a women’s menstrual period, and there is a greater likelihood of having canker sores if a parent also has them. Often, canker sores occur during times of stress.

Understanding Canker Sores

Find out more about canker sores:

Basics

Symptoms

Treatment

Traumatic ulcers, which look like canker sores, are caused by rough dentures, a slip of the toothbrush, or hot food.

What Causes Canker Sores?

No one knows what causes canker sores, or why women are more likely to get them. Outbreaks often seem related to physical or emotional stress. Certain foods such as acidic foods, tomatoes, eggplant, and possibly gluten, may also cause them to develop. Ingredients in toothpaste can trigger a canker sore. 

Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not contagious. They don't pose any health risk other than the discomfort that comes along with them.

How Can I Prevent Canker Sores?

Canker sores cannot be prevented. Many techniques have been proposed, but there is little evidence they work.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on March 14, 2014

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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