Dr. Chou explains that sometimes a sharp tooth surface or dental appliances such as braces or ill-fitting dentures, might trigger canker sores. Other factor like stress or tissue injury can also cause simple canker sores. Certain foods -- including citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables (such as lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes, and strawberries) may also trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse.
Canker sores are small, shallow ulcers that appear in the mouth and often make eating and talking uncomfortable especially if you have braces rubbing against them.
There are two types of canker sores: Simple canker sores may appear three or four times a year and last up to a week. They typically occur in people between 10 and 20 years of age.
Complex canker sores are less common and occur more often in people who have previously had them. Some cases of complex canker sores are caused by an underlying health condition, such as an impaired immune system; nutritional problems (such as vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid, or iron deficiency) or gastrointestinal tract disease (such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease).
Dr. Chou explains that cold sores and canker sores are not the same thing but are often confused with one another. Cold sores, also called fever blisters or herpes simplex type 1, are groups of painful, fluid-filled blisters. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are caused by a virus and are extremely contagious. So if you have a cold sore, whenever you touch your mouth or your braces, Dr. Chou advises you to wash your hands well so you do not spread the virus. Also, cold sores typically appear outside the mouth -- usually under the nose, around the lips, or under the chin -- while canker sores occur inside the mouth.
Although there is no cure for canker sores, and they often recur, you may be able to reduce their frequency. Dr. Chou says if you have any questions or concerns about your braces and canker sores to schedule a visit at her office in Toronto.