Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are often confused with cold sores (herpes simplex ulcers).  The herpes simplex virus 1 (not to be confused with genital herpes) causes the small crater-like sores on the lips, the top of the tongue, roof of the mouth, and attached gingiva (gum right next to the teeth). They can also occur in non-oral parts of the body, such as the nose and the chin.

Aphthous ulcers, also called recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS), generally occur in the softer areas of the mouth, such as the inside of the cheeks, under the tongue, and inside the lips.  They also cause a crater-like sore that has an inflamed border and a grey-ish depressed interior.  The cause of RAS is a bit nebulous, but is possibly connected with immune system fluctuations.  Both afflictions are often quite painful, but generally resolve within a week to 10 days.

An article in MedicalNewstoday online gives ten remedies for canker sores:

  1. Over-the-counter gel or patch
  2. Mouth rinse
  3. Salt rinse
  4. Dental hygiene with a soft brush
  5. Vitamin B-12 supplements
  6. Chamomile tea with honey
  7. Avoiding very spicy, salty or acidic food
  8. Using aloe vera
  9. Numbing the mouth with ice chips
  10. Making a clove oil rinse

None of these cure aphthous ulcers, but some reduce the length of the affliction and make them less painful. There is actually at least one medication, Sitavig, that can prevent the very early symptoms of herpes simplex from developing into a full-blown lesion.  At Clark Family Dental we are glad to determine the difference between the two lesions and recommend treatment.

The article on RAS in MedicalNewsToday with more information can be read by clicking here.

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