Blog Post

October 10, 2022

Triggers of Canker Sores

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small, painful mouth sores that are not contagious. They should not to be confused with cold sores. Although no definitive triggers can be listed, many potential ones have been identified.

Canker sores can occur more frequently in individuals who have been diagnosed with certain diseases including HIV-AIDS, Behcet’s disease, neutrophil dysfunction diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases, and more. The use of certain medications including beta blockers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and medications used during chemotherapy has been known to increase the incidence of such outbreaks as well.

An increase in an individual’s level of stress or the prolonged duration of personal stress can also trigger canker sores.

Additionally, certain types of food products have been suggested by many sources as potential triggers of canker sores, both simple and complex varieties. They have been noted as causes for outbreaks of simple canker sores, typically in individuals between the ages of 10 and 20.

Although, these triggers do not randomly cause complex canker sores to appear in individuals who have no predilection for them, they have been known to trigger an outbreak of canker sores in individuals who have a known history of complex canker sore outbreaks.

In particular, specific cereal grains including wheat, buckwheat, rye, oats, and barley can trigger outbreaks of canker sores. The premise is that the gluten protein that is contained within these cereal grains is the actual trigger for the outbreak.

Additionally, specific citrus or acidic fruits can also trigger canker sore outbreaks in individuals who are prone to them. These fruits include strawberries, apples, figs, pineapples, oranges, and lemons. Although tomatoes are still considered by many to be a vegetable, it also is a know trigger for such outbreaks.

A small variety of condiments have been considered potential triggers for causing these mouth sores to erupt. These condiments include vinegar, soy, and mustard. Shellfish has also been known to lead to an outbreak of these painful mouth sores.

Additionally, a small number of foods commonly associated with snacking have been listed among the triggers of aphthous ulcers. This category includes nuts, gum, lozenges, and chocolate.

Furthermore, certain food allergies might also be behind canker sore outbreaks. Since many of the foods mentioned above are also known causes of allergic reactions in some individuals who have food allergies, it only stands to reason that these individuals would be more prone to such outbreaks.

In addition to food products, several other triggers or known causes of canker sores exist. Injury or trauma to the mouth can lead to this painful and uncomfortable condition. In particular, chewing on the side of the inside of the mouth, either intentionally or unintentionally, can precipitate an outbreak of these mouth sores. Moreover, the irritation often caused by wearing braces can also lead to an outbreak. Although no definitive results or findings exist to date, there are suggestive studies that indicate that certain products containing sodium lauryl sulfate or SFL can lead to an outbreak or more frequent recurrence of canker sores. Products that contain SFL include some mouthwashes and toothpastes. The SFL acts as an irritant due to the fact that it has a tendency to dry out the tissues of the mouth.

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