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The Different Causes of Canker Sores

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  • Take note that canker sores are common symptoms of IBDs, especially for Crohn’s disease
  • This illness caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) could lead to the development of canker sores and other symptoms like dry mouth, tooth decay and gum disease (periodontitis)

Although scientists have not fully determined what really causes painful canker sores, what they have discovered is that they could develop because of a variety of factors and medical conditions.1

These Factors Can Increase Your Risk for Canker Sores

Canker sores may appear because of certain events or environmental, emotional or dietary reasons. According to the Mayo Clinic, these include:2

Mouth injuries due to dental work, intense tooth brushing, sports accidents or accidental cheek bites

Toothpastes and mouth rinses with sodium lauryl sulfate

Food sensitivities or allergies to chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese and spicy or acidic foods

Deficiency in vitamin B12, zinc, iron, folate or folic acid

Allergic responses to bacteria in the mouth

Helicobacter pylori bacteria that cause peptic ulcers

Hormonal changes during menstruation

Emotional stress

Certain Diseases Can Pave the Way for Canker Sores

Some diseases can pave the way for the onset of canker sores, such as:3

Celiac disease: This is a serious intestinal disorder that occurs because of sensitivity to gluten, a type of protein found in grains. Canker sores are a known hallmark of this disease.4

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis: Take note that canker sores are common symptoms of IBDs,5 especially for Crohn’s disease. You may notice that during severe flare-ups, canker sores often appear, but they tend to heal once the condition is controlled.6

Behcet’s disease: Patients with this rare disorder experience blood vessel inflammation throughout the body, including the mouth, and mouth sores resembling canker sores are a major sign of this illness. These start as raised and round blisters but develop into painful ulcers. Healing often takes one to three weeks, and patients might experience recurrent sores too.7

Faulty immune system: If you have a weakened immune system, this means that healthy cells in your mouth are attacked instead of harmful pathogens, viruses and bacteria. While a definite link between canker sores and a weak immune system hasn’t been fully established yet, this immunocompromised environment leads to a slower repair period for the lesions, hence the potential for longer periods of pain.8

HIV/AIDS: This illness caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is known to attack your immune system and cause oral problems, among many other consequences.9,10 This may lead to the development of canker sores11 and other symptoms like tooth decay, dry mouth12 and gum disease (periodontitis).13


Canker Sore: Introduction

What Is a Canker Sore?

Canker Sore Causes

Canker Sore Types

Canker Sore Symptoms

Canker Sore Treatment

How to Get Rid of Canker Sores

Canker Sore Prevention

Canker Sore Diet

Canker Sore FAQ

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