Canker Sores (Aphthous Stomatitis): A Common Problem Of Unknown Origin

Canker Sores
Aphthous stomatitis, commonly referred to as canker sores, is the most common form of oral ulcerative disease, but its cause is still uncertain. Aphthous ulcers can range from minor to severe in pain and occur in otherwise healthy patients.

Etiologic factors such as stress, physical or chemical trauma, food sensitivity and infection related to Helicobacter pylori and herpes simplex virus have been investigated, but no consistent link has been determined.This has led to treatments that focus on symptom reduction, including:

Antibiotics – Topical treatments, such as tetracycline and minocycline, can reduce pain and duration of ulcers.

Anti-inflammatories – May be the most helpful way to speed healing and relieve symptoms in the management of recurrent minor aphthous ulcers. Immune Modulators – Used primarily in patients infected with HIV.

Anesthetics – Over-thecounter treatments, such as Anbesol and Oragel, focus on reducing pain.

Alternative Remedies – Sage and chamomile mouthwash, echinacea, and zinc gluconate lozenges are a few treatments with anecdotal success, but none have been studied in randomized controlled trials.

When aphthous ulcers are slow to heal or if other symptoms such as uveitis, arthritis, fever, or adenopathy are present, other, more serious conditions should be investigated.

William A. McClelland, MD, FACS - Board Certified Otolaryngologist (ENT)
About the Author
Otolaryngologist (ENT) at CornerStone Ear, Nose & Throat, PA
Dr. McClelland is a Board Certified Otolaryngologist (ENT) as well as the Founding Partner of CornerStone Ear, Nose & Throat, PA. His particular clinical interest is minimally invasive sinus surgery.

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