What’s Causing Your Canker Sores? 


If you’ve experienced the pain and nuisance of a canker sore, you’re far from alone. About one in five people get them on a regular basis. At Lifetime Family Dental, we can attest that they most frequently appear in teens, young adults and women, but—anyone can experience canker sores. Science isn’t certain about the causes of canker sores but there are factors known to contribute to this pesky problem and preventative measures that can help.

Risk Factors 

  • A family history of canker sores 
  • An allergic reaction or intolerance to certain foods
  • Infection 
  • Physical stress
  • Emotional stress
  • Damage to mouth tissue 
  • Hormonal changes during menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause 
  • Nutritional deficiencies such as low iron, B12 and folic acid 
  • In rare cases, a blood disorder 

Canker Sores Versus Cold Sores 

No, you can’t get cold sores from kissing someone. While both types of sores may look similar and have the same burning sensation, their causes, symptoms and treatments are different. Canker sores are not contagious and appear on the inside of the mouth. Cold sores are highly contagious, fluid-filled blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus appearing on the outside of the mouth—under the nose, around the lips and even under the chin. Cold sores need treatment to stop from spreading but canker sores will typically disappear on their own between 1-3 weeks.  


As previously discussed, there aren’t any definitive causes of canker sores, but there are measures that can be taken to help prevent outbreaks. 

  • Brush your teeth and tongue gently to avoid damaging your tongue or surrounding tissue. 
  • Eat a nutritious vitamin and mineral-infused diet to help avoid deficiencies linked to canker sores. (Beans, lentils and leafy greens are especially helpful if you’re low on iron or folic acid).
  • Reduce physical and emotional stress by getting adequate sleep, regular exercise and taking mindful breaks throughout the day. 

When to See a Doctor 

While canker sores will eventually go away on their own, treatment can actually speed up the healing process. Mouth gels and antiseptic mouthwashes can be purchased without a prescription to help relieve pain, inflammation and prevent infection. If your cold sores just won’t let up even after treatment, or you’re experiencing other symptoms simultaneously such as eye discomfort, fever, rashes, stomach pain or unexplained fatigue—you should give your doctor a call to rule out any underlying medical conditions. 

As always, Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, AZ is here to speak with you and discuss any concerns that you may have or to schedule an appointment. 


Photo by pch.vector from freepik.com (8/31/20)