After getting your braces, you may wake up one morning to find a sore in your mouth. You’re probably wondering what it is, how you got it, and how you can get rid of it. 

That little sore is called a canker sore. The good news is, they aren’t dangerous. The bad news is, they can be very painful. 

At Freeman Orthodontics, we see patients with canker sores often. We know a few tricks on how to treat the ones you have and prevent others. 

Here are a few facts on canker sores, as well as a few solutions on how to get rid of them.

What Is a Canker Sore?

You may have questions about canker sores. What are they? Are they dangerous? Are they contagious? 

Canker sores are different from other mouth sores, such as cold sores. Unlike cold sores, canker sores don’t appear on the outside of lips or outside of the mouth. They affect the soft tissue inside the mouth. They can show up inside your lips or cheeks, at the edge of your gumline, even under your tongue. 

A canker sore begins as a red spot in the mouth. Eventually, the red sore bursts and becomes an open sore. The sore usually has a white or yellowish membrane in the center surrounded by red. They’re generally fairly small, about 3-5mm across. 

The sore isn’t contagious, so you won’t spread it to others. However, they can be painful and can make it harder to eat or talk. 

How Did I Get It?

Several factors can cause canker sores. Some of those include:

  • Food sensitivities to acidic or spicy foods, chocolate, strawberries, eggs, nuts, coffee, or cheese
  • Lack of vitamin B12 or iron in your diet
  • Emotional stress
  • H. pylori, the same bacteria that causes peptic ulcers in the stomach
  • Allergic responses to bacteria in your mouth
  • Injury to your mouth

The last cause is the one most common for those with braces. That’s because your lips, cheeks, and tongue haven’t toughened up around your braces yet. Until they do, they can rub against the braces, irritate, and eventually create a canker sore. 

How Do I Get Rid of It?

Most canker sores will disappear on their own in 1-2 weeks. They usually don’t leave scars unless the canker sores are exceptionally huge. 

Until they disappear, canker sores can be painful. The good news is, there are several ways you can get relief. 

  • Avoid spicy or acidic foods that can irritate the sore
  • Use dental wax to cover the braces rubbing against the sore
  • Use an over-the-counter oral gel
  • Rinse your mouth at least twice a day with warm saltwater. 
  • Use a baking soda rinse (1 tsp baking soda for ½ cup warm water
  • Dab sore with milk of magnesia to coat it and reduce pain
  • Use over-the-counter ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce pain

Be sure to brush your teeth regularly to keep the area clean. It will help heal your canker sores faster. It will also help prevent them by keeping bacteria out of your mouth. Brush gently with a soft-bristled brush to avoid injuries and more canker sores. Maintaining good oral health is one of the best ways to prevent canker sores.

How Do I Prevent Canker Sores?

The good news is, the longer you wear your braces, the tougher your lips, cheeks, and tongue will get, and the fewer canker sores will pop up. Until then, there are steps you can take to reduce the number of canker sores. 

  • Use dental wax over braces that are rubbing particular areas
  • Brush and floss regularly with a soft-bristled brush and waxed floss
  • Avoid spicy or acidic foods
  • Maintain a nutritious diet to ensure B12 and iron levels are normal
  • Reduce stress whenever possible

If you have a large canker sore or one that persists beyond a couple of weeks, don’t hesitate to call us. We serve San Jose and The Bay area, so if you’re in the area, we can check on any canker sores that have you concerned. Just schedule an appointment, and we can take a look and offer possible solutions or further examination.

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