Canker Sores Health (cont.)

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Next Steps

For patients with a first episode, confirmation of the diagnosis is important to make sure that there are not other diseases mimicking an aphthous ulcer. For a patient with recurrent aphthous ulcers it is best to work out a treatment plan with your physician to minimize unneeded trips to the physician while also making sure that pain and suffering are minimized.

Canker Sore Prevention

  • Avoid anything that could cause trauma - even minor trauma - to the mouth, such as hard toothbrushes and rough foods.
  • Stress reduction: For many patients, stress is a reason for more recurrent attacks, and stress-management techniques may decrease the frequency of attacks.
  • Avoid toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate if you tend to get canker sores.
  • Do not talk while chewing.
  • Have any irregular dental surfaces repaired.
  • Hormonal factors can sometimes trigger an outbreak in women during the premenstrual phase. Oral contraceptives may be helpful in this regard.
  • If you have a deficiency of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12, make sure you are taking the appropriate supplements; however, in most cases, this will not produce any improvement in the recurrence of the ulcers.

Canker Sore Prognosis

Most people are minimally inconvenienced by canker sores, because attacks usually are infrequent and last only a matter of one to two weeks.

  • The more severe form, however, tends to last longer.
  • As you age, canker sores should be come less frequent and eventually no longer occur.

Canker Sore Picture

Canker sores are painful ulcers involving the mouth. The person shown here also has Behçet's syndrome, which among other things causes canker sores.
Canker sores are painful ulcers involving the mouth. The person shown here also has Behçet's syndrome, which among other things causes canker sores. (Photo courtesy F. Fehl III, MD)

Medically reviewed by Martin E Zipser, MD; American board of Surgery


Abascal, K., and E. Yarnell. "Treatment for Recurrent Aphthous Ulcers." Alternative and Complementary Therapies 16.2 (2010): 100-106.

Messadi, D., and F. Younai F. "Aphthous Ulcers." Dermatologic Therapy 23 (2010): 281-290.

Scully, C. "Aphthous Ulceration." New England Journal of Medicine. 355 (2006): 165-172.

Previous contributing author and editors: Author: William Shapiro, MD, Consulting Staff, Department of Urgent Care and Emergency Medicine, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation Editors: Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM, Research Director, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD, Senior Pharmacy Editor, eMedicine; Jerry Balentine, DO, Professor of Emergency Medicine, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine; Medical Director, Saint Barnabas Hospital

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2014

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