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Canker sores : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

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Alternate Names : Aphthous ulcer, Ulcer – aphthous

Definition

A canker sore is a painful, open sore in the mouth. Canker sores are white or yellow and surrounded by a bright red area. They are benign (not cancer).

See also: Herpes, Fever blisters and Canker sores

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Canker sores are a common form of mouth ulcer. They occur in women more often than men. They may occur at any age, but usually first appear between the ages of 10 and 40.

Canker sores usually appear on the inner surface of the cheeks and lips, tongue, soft palate, and the base of the gums.

Canker sores can run in families. They may also be linked to problems with the body’s immune (defense) system. The sores may occur after a mouth injury due to dental work, aggressive tooth cleaning, or biting the tongue or cheek.

Canker sores can be triggered by emotional stress, dietary deficiencies (especially iron, folic acid, or vitamin B-12), menstrual periods, hormonal changes, food allergies, and similar situations. They occur most commonly with viral infections. In some cases, the cause can not be identified.

Pictures & Images

Canker sore

a common form of mouth ulcer, which appears as a painful white or yellow ulcer surrounded by a bright red area. A canker sore sore can be triggered by emotional stress, dietary deficiencies, menstrual periods, hormonal changes, food allergies or trauma in the mouth. Canker sores usually heal without treatment within two weeks.

Canker sore (aphthous ulcer)

Canker sore (aphthous ulcer)

(Aphthous ulcers) are very common. Typically, they are a shallow ulcer with a white or whitish/yellow base surrounded by a reddish border. This ulcer is seen in an individual with AIDS and is located in front and just below the bottom teeth.

Mouth anatomy

Mouth anatomy

origination of the digestive tract. The teeth and salivary glands aid in breaking down food for digestion. The tonsils aid against infections.


Review Date : 2/1/2009
Reviewed By : Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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