Canker sores: symptoms, diagnosis & causes of singaw
Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers or singaw, are painful lesions that develop in the mouth or the base of the gums. Even though they are normally small, they make eating, drinking and talking uncomfortable or unbearable. Read on and learn more about the triggers, symptoms, diagnosis and more to prevent the cause of singaw.
There are no clear-cut causes of singaw. However, there are certain factors that have been identified that trigger canker sores:
- Minor mouth injuries - dental work, hard brushing, sports injury, dental braces, or accidental bite
- Toothpastes and mouth rinses that containing sodium lauryl sulfate
- Food sensitivities to acidic foods like strawberries, citrus, and pineapples, and trigger foods like chocolate and coffee
- Lacking essential vitamins, especially B-12, zinc, folate, and iron
- Allergic response to mouth bacteria
- Hormonal changes during menstruation
- Emotional stress or lack of sleep
- Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
Canker sores can also be a sign of serious conditions that require medical treatment such as:
- Celiac disease - a condition in which the body is unable to tolerate gluten
- Inflammatory bowel disease - a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract
- Diabetes mellitus - a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar
- Behcet’s disease - a condition that causes inflammation throughout the body
- A malfunctioning immune system that causes your body to attack the healthy mouth cells instead of viruses and bacteria
- HIV/AIDs - a virus that damages the immune system
There are three types of canker sores and you can usually define the type based on the symptoms.
They are the small oval or round canker sores. They usually heal within one or two weeks not leaving behind any scarring.
These are basically larger and deeper canker sores compared to the minor type. They have irregular edges and can take more than a month to heal. They can also result in long-term scarring.
Often affecting adults, Herpetiform canker sores are pinpoint size in clusters of 10 to 100. They have irregular edges and will often heal without scarring within one to two weeks.
A visual exam is usually conducted to diagnose canker sores. But for frequent & severe canker sores, tests for other medical conditions might be done.
While most canker sores don't need treatment, if you get mouth ulcers often or extremely painful ones, a number of treatments can decrease pain and healing time including:
- Saltwater and baking soda rinse
- Placing milk of magnesia on the canker sore
- Covering canker sores with baking soda paste
- Over-the-counter benzocaine (topical anesthetic) products like Orajel or Anbesol
- Applying ice directly to canker sores
- Mouth rinse that contains steroid to reduce pain and swelling
- Topical pastes
- Placing damp tea bags on your canker sore
- Nutritional supplements like folic acid, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and zinc
- Natural remedies such as chamomile tea, echinacea, myrrh, and licorice root
Often, canker sores goes away on it's own without the need for diagnosis and treatments. But go see your doctor if you develop any of the following:
- Unusually large canker sores
- New canker sores before the old ones heal
- Canker sores that persist more than three weeks
- Canker sores that are painless
- Big enough canker sores that it extends to the lips
- Pain that can’t be controlled with over-the-counter or natural medication
- Severe problems with eating and drinking
- High fever or diarrhea whenever the canker sores appear
Photo from: Vital Record