Ask a Dentist

Q: Why do I keep getting canker sores?

Person in pain holding their mouth that has canker sores on it

A: Healthcare professionals don't know the cause for recurring canker sores, though they think it's inherited. Also called aphthous stomatitis or recurrent mouth ulcers, recurring canker sores are not contagious and are difficult to prevent. Stress, fatigue, menstruation, allergies, mouth injuries (biting), braces, immune disorder or vitamin deficiencies may also lead to canker sores.

Canker sores are circular, white or yellow in the centre and red on the border. They appear on the lining of your mouth, cheeks and lips and can cause difficulties eating or talking. Burning, tingling and swelling are also symptoms of canker sores. There are different types of mouth ulcers, varying in severity. Typically, canker sores last 2 weeks or less.

Remember, cold sores are a different condition from canker sores. Cold sores are small, blister-like sores, contracted from the herpes simplex virus. These sores appear on the lips and are contagious.

Treat your canker sores by eating soft foods, drinking cold liquids, rinsing with salt water, or putting over-the-counter anesthetics on your sores, such as Anbesol or Orajel. If your canker sores are causing you severe pain or lasting longer than 3 weeks, see your dentist for a checkup, then visit your doctor. You may have anemia or iron deficiency which has been linked with mouth ulcers. Mouth ulcers may also be an early sign of mouth cancer, but you’ll only know for sure once you ask a health professional.

If you have any concerns about your canker sores, schedule an appointment with one of our Winnipeg dental clinics, located in St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre.