I frequently get canker sores in my mouth. Is there anything I can do to prevent them?
Yes, to a degree! Although there has been a significant amount of research performed on causes, prevention, and treatment, there still is no universal method (it seems everyone has some suggestions, but few work on everyone). May we lay out some of the knowns, and make some suggestions:
Canker sores are caused by a herpes virus-simplex Type I.
Why do they occur?
Three conditions are necessary for an outbreak:
- Susceptibility—there is an obvious genetic link since some people get them and others don’t.
- Stress—it is well-documented that outbreaks are most likely to occur with stress
- Trauma—trauma is of two types: physical (biting the tongue, abrasive food, etc) and chemical (ingredients in things we put in the mouth)
OK, that’s very interesting, but what can I do?
Susceptibility and stress are frequently beyond our control, so that leaves just the chemical trauma—watch what you put in the mouth!
Chemical Ingredients that may precipitate canker sores (you still need susceptibility and stress). Listed in order of aggravation:
- Nuts(esp. English walnuts)
- Chocolate (sorry about that)
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (the ingredient in toothpastes that provides the foaming (detergent) action. All toothpastes in North America have this ingredient except those shown to the right.
What is the most effective way to create cankers (just kidding, to illustrate a point)
Eat walnut brownies while under stress, then brush your teeth with normal toothpastes. Almost a guaranteed way to produce a mouth full of canker sores!
How do we minimize or prevent canker sores?
Avoid nuts and chocolate when stressed out. If you chronically have canker sores, then we would suggest that you replace your current toothpaste with either Rembrandt® or Biotene®.