106 Where There Is No Dentist 2012
The exact cause of canker sores is not known. Canker sores affect both
adults and children, and are very common among youth.
One or more sores can appear at any time. These sores hurt, especially
when pieces of food touch them.
• A sore can appear on the cheeks,
inside the lips, on the tongue, or below
the gums on the smooth skin.
• The sore is white or yellow with the
skin around it bright red.
• The person may have had a similar kind
of sore before. It tends to come back.
Note: a sharp edge of a denture rubbing against the gums can
make a similar kind of sore.
A canker sore goes away by itself in about 10 days. Medicine does not make
that happen any faster. (However, smoothing a denture or fixing a broken
tooth does help.) The treatment is simple. Tell the person how to feel more
comfortable while waiting for the 10 days to pass:
• Eat foods that are soft and not likely to hurt the sore.
• Do not eat spicy food.
• Drink lots of water.
• Chew food on the other side of the mouth, away from the sore.
A denture which does not fit
should be remade.
In the meantime, leave the
denture out of the mouth for
2 or 3 days.
Ask the person to rinse with
warm salt water, 4 cups each
day until the sore is better.
If the sore continues after 10 days, it may be infected. Give penicillin (page 93).
A sore that does not heal after antibiotic treatment may be cancer (see
page 125). See a doctor immediately.