Fort Worth, Texas,
11:19 AM

Let's Learn About ... Canker Sores

Dr. Diane with advice on treating and preventing aphthous ulcers

Do you or your kids get canker sores?

We doctors call them "aphthous ulcers" because we cannot use names in medicine that are easily pronounceable. Come on.

They're a real pain, aren't they? And we aren't sure what causes them. Lots of theories are out there. Viral causes, autoimmune causes, hormones, emotional stress...who knows.

There are many kinds of treatment out there. Over-the-counter treatments include Benzocaine (Anbesol, Kank-A, Orabase, Zilactin-B), Fluocinonide (Lidex, Vanos), Hydrogen peroxide (Orajel Antiseptic Mouth Sore Rinse, Peroxyl). Doctors also sometimes prescribe steroid mouth rinses for the really bad ones, or a coating medication called Carafate.

There was some thought that canker sores happen because people have nutritional deficiencies. However, a recent study showed that supplementing folks with vitamins didn't really make them appear any less. Still working on that hypothesis.

You can try these things when you or your kiddo have one:

  • Rinse your mouth with a baking soda rinse (dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup warm water).
  • Dab a small amount of milk of magnesia on it a few times a day-Avoid spicy and abrasive foods.

My advice is this - instead of treating them, PREVENT them.

AVOID certain kinds of toothpaste that have something called SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) in them. This is what makes toothpaste foam, and many patients of mine have completely eliminated canker sores by just choosing a brand of toothpaste that doesn't contain SLS. We think the compound is a little too harsh and abrasive to the oral tissues, causing the sores.

Look for names like Sensodyne Pronamel and Toms, among others.

Happy brushing!

Hugs,Dr. Diane

Get to know Diane Arnaout, M.D.

Dr. Diane Arnaout joined the Cook Children's Willow Park practice in 2011. You can stay connected with Dr. Arnaout and the Willow Park practice on Facebook. Dr. Arnaout was born and raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She attended college at Texas A&M University and medical school at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio. She did her pediatric internship and residency at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital and M.D. Anderson at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, TX where she served as a leader on the medical education committees. She is a board-certified pediatrician. Click to learn more.

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