Canker sores: how to treat this lesion

Canker sores are usually benign issues, yet they may cause some discomfort. Learn how to relieve pain caused by this lesion. Click To Tweet

Canker sores are due to the occurrence of small ulcers that arise inside the mouth,  lips or cheeks, or on the tongue, gums or throat. Canker sores are generally benign even though quite bothersome, as they may cause pain, especially when eating. Usually, they’ll disappear spontaneously, a few weeks after they first appeared.

These lesions aren’t contagious and are a fairly common issue in pre-adolescents, teenagers, and young adults. Learn everything you need to knoe about them.

Types of canker sores 

Usually, these lesions are manifested by flat, round, or oval spots, of a white or yellow-greyish hue, with red borders. Regarding their dimension, they usually have less than a centimetre in diameter and could appear in groups. Even though they’ll usually disappear on their own, they could leave a scar.

We can define three types of canker sores, according to their characteristics:

  • Minor canker sores are the most frequent ones and are equivalent to superficial, round, of small dimension lesions. They don’t leave a scar and will disappear, usually, after a week. Frequently, they’ll affect the buccal mucosa or gum.
  • Major canker sores are of a bigger dimension and deeper. In this case, the complete healing of the lesion will take around two weeks and it may result in a scar.
  • Herpetiform aphthous stomatitis is the least frequent type of canker sore, being characterised by multiple canker sores of one to two millimetres in diameter that may surface in different areas of the oral cavity.

Main causes

The origin of canker sores is still not known. However, there are factors that are suspected to trigger the surfacing of these lesions, namely:

  • Acid food
  • Emotional and psychological disorders.
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Genetic heritage
  • Anaemia
  • Hormonal changes
  • Specific prescription drugs
  • Insomnia
  • Smoking
  • Chronic gastroesophageal reflux
  • Certain systemic illnesses
  • Dental issues and poor oral hygiene
Canker sores: how to treat this lesion


The main canker sores symptom is pain, which may manifest after the surfacing of the lesion. We advise you to seek the aid of a specialist if these symptoms linger over several weeks or even whether:

  • Canker sores are of a large dimension (>1-3 cm).
  • Canker sores recur often (>2-3 times a year).
  • Patients present ulcers in the genital organs.
  • Other alert signals are present, such as fever, fatigue, malaise, weight loss, or loss of appetite.
Canker sores: how to treat this lesion


Even though usually, canker sores spontaneously heal, it’s possible to resort to prescription drugs to relieve the symptoms and ease everyday activities, like eating, for example. For that effect, your doctor may recommend you to use: Mouthwash to disinfect the oral cavity, painkillers, such as gel, spray, or saline solutions and buccal adhesive tablets.

Furthermore, whilst canker sores linger, we advise you to:

  • Favour easy-to-chew foods.
  • Don’t have too acidic, too hot, or overseasoned foods.
  • Using a soft toothbrush.
  • Don’t touch or pick on the canker sore.
  • Having adequate oral hygiene.


To avoid the occurrence of canker sores, it’s important to work on preventing the risk factors that are associated with them. For that, among some of the advised measures, we’ve selected:

  • Having balanced nutrition, rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Chewing calmly.
  • Having good oral hygiene.
  • Take multivitamins and probiotics, if recommended by your doctor or dentist, after a medical appointment.

Adopt these suggestions we’ve given you and prevent or treat the disturbing canker sores as soon as possible.


Written by