Question: I have been plagued with canker sores my entire life. What can I do to prevent them? What causes them? When I do get them, how can I get them to be less painful? Answer. Canker sores, for some, are a constant issue that is difficult to prevent and tiresome. Typically, they appear when you’re tired, stressed, and malnourished. Large doses of sun and alcohol consumption can also be culprits. Within the last few years, there have been studies indicating that sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can predispose one to canker sores.[/answer]
A commonly overlooked reason for canker sores is mechanical in nature. A rough spot on a night guard, denture, orthodontic retainer, or Invisalign aligner can be the impetus for the formation of the sore. I’ve actually seen instances where a sharp edge of a tooth (created by grinding) will incite a canker sore in the exact same location of the tongue or cheek. This, of course, is easy to identify and fixed by smoothing down the tooth.
If the canker sore appears in the same spot each time, see your dentist, and have him identify any sharp areas that mechanically abrade that area and have her round or smooth the sharp spot on the tooth.
Here’s the Fix
- Sleep eight hours a night
- Manage your stress
- Eat well
- Take vitamins (especially the B’s)
- Drink less alcohol
- Do not use products in your mouth that contain SLS
Many of my patients balk at the notion that canker sores may be related to alcohol consumption. I don’t ask my patients to stop drinking alcohol, but one can titrate in order to find the amount of alcohol that triggers a canker sore. This may take a few Friday and Saturday nights of going out, but you’ll have fun experimenting!
Blog Notes: About Mark Burhenne DDS
The mouth doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is intimately connected to the health of the rest of the body.
In fact, the bacteria and entire environment inside the mouth are connected to the rest of your body so intimately that the state of your oral health can predict whether you’ll have heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
In my 30 years of practice as a dentist, I’ve seen a lot of misinformation and people who have fallen through the cracks due to our healthcare system’s failure to understand the oral-body connection.
I created this blog to empower people to understand how your mouth is a window into the health of the rest of your body.
It is my sincere hope that the knowledge and tools on this blog will lead to greater health and well-being for you and those you love.
Throughout this website you’ll find high-quality articles and free resources for getting and staying healthy. It’s the info I use to keep myself and my family healthy, and how I treat my patients.
More About Mark Burhenne DDS
I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.S. in Biochemistry and B.A. in History of Art and had the privilege of attending the University of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, consistently ranked among the best in the US.
I am an active member of several continuing education groups and study clubs in prosthetics and periodontology that perform actual clinical work on patients. I have worked as an expert witness in legal dental cases. I’ve also volunteered as a dental surgeon in Jos, Nigeria.
I raised three daughters without cavities (all without ingestion of fluoride). I enjoy downhill skiing, alpine touring, mountain biking, photography, and listening to jazz and classical records (you know, those flat analog 12-inch vinyl discs).
I am passionate about restoring teeth to their original function and beauty – and as someone who studied art history and is a hobbyist photographer, the intersection of art and the opportunity to help people makes dentistry my dream profession.
Ask the Dentist is for you, so I want to know, what would you like answered on Ask the Dentist?
Mark Burhenne DDS