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Winter is upon us and while that may mean holiday cookies, time with family, and cozy fireplaces, it also means runny noses and flu season. Alongside the holiday festivities this year, you may notice yourself becoming more susceptible to unsightly canker sores than you are in the summer months. These pesky sores can be outright painful as well as annoying and inconvenient, hindering your ability to enjoy yourself while eating, drinking, and attempting to be merry. If you’ve ever wondered just what these painful sores are all about, read on to learn nine new facts about canker sores.

1. They usually clear up on their own.

Most canker sores will heal themselves with one or two weeks of forming, but there are certain over the counter medications that can help the process along. If you have a canker sore that’s lasted longer than two weeks, it may be time to make an appointment with your dentist to see if a larger issue is at play.

2. Canker sores are not contagious.

You may have other reasons to avoid the mistletoe, but canker sores aren’t one. Unlike cold sores, canker sores will not spread with contact to another person.

3. They go by a few names.

Their more official titles include aphthous ulcers or recurrent aphthous stomatitis.

4. The sore itself is not the first sign.

Often, a canker sore will announce it is on its way one or two days before forming with a slight burning or tingling sensation. Eventually, a small bump will form that usually ruptures into a sore in a day’s time.

5. They come in a few shades.

Canker sores can be yellow, gray, or white and are surrounded by a red halo-like border.

6. Medical intervention isn’t usually necessary.

Unless you are experiencing very large, painful, or unhealing sores, they will usually clear up on their own accord. If you find your canker sores to be constantly reoccurring, it may be time to talk to a dentist.

7. Prescription help is available.

If your sores are at a state where a visit to a dentist or physician is necessary, have no fear! Prescription mouthwashes and medication are available to help rid your mouth of these bothersome burdens. Additionally, cauterizing the lesion is an option.

8. It isn’t always one and done.

Canker sores can reappear over time, although most people will go months without having one appear again. As mentioned previously, an abundance of canker sores may be a good reason to pay the dentist a visit.

9. The true cause of canker sores is a mystery.

While science has yet to determine why these painful lesions develop, doctors have been able to pin down certain things that lead to an increased likelihood of their development. Stress, poor nutrition, issues with the immune system, bacteria, viruses, hormonal changes, and food allergies are all known to contribute to an increase of the appearance of canker sores. If you’re experiencing more canker sores than normal, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist for help! To schedule an appointment with our experienced team of general dentists and oral surgeons in Chicago IL, give us a call at Downtown Dental in the Loop or River North today!