The exact underlying cause of canker sores has still not been established. According to the Mayo Clinic, a combination of factors leads to the formation of these sores in the mouth. Here, we look at some of these causal agents, some of which contribute more to canker sore formation than others:
Any damage to the sensitive dermal layers inside the mouth can lead to the formation of canker sores. This can include hard brushing, mishaps during dental procedures, accidental biting of the cheeks and sporting accidents.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
This compound, called SLS for short, is a controversial one. Although consecutive tests have failed to conclusively prove that these can cause canker sores, one study did show that ulcers and sores in the mouth healed faster and there was less ulcer-caused pain when SLS-free toothpastes were used regularly.
Certain types of food to which a person is sensitive are known to cause canker sores. This includes chocolate, cheese, eggs, coffee, strawberries and some nuts. Acidic or spicy foods are also known to be causal factors in canker sore formation.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency
The Vitamin B-12, when consumed in inadequate amounts, can lead to canker sores. Deficiency of minerals such as zinc and iron can also lead to this condition. Proper dietary intake or supplementation has been known to reduce the appearance of painful canker sores.
Conditions wherein a person is allergic to certain types of bacteria that are found in the mouth have been known to aggravate this situation.
A specific strain of bacteria, called Helicobacter pylori, which also causes peptic ulcers, is a possible causal agent in the formation of canker sores as well.
Hormonal Imbalance during Menstruation
During the menstrual cycle, hormone levels constantly change, and this has been identified as one of the possible causes of canker sores.
The link between stress and ulcers has already been established and, although the mechanism isn’t fully understood, the connection is undeniable. Mental or emotional stress can also lead to canker sores.
There are some diseases for which mouth ulcers are a symptom. These include Behcet’s disease, ulcerative colitis and even HIV/AIDS, which reduces the body’s ability to keep itself immune from external infection.
All of these factors may contribute to the formation of canker sores, but there is no evidence to suggest that any one cause is entirely responsible for the condition. Invariably, it is a combination of two or more of these preceding factors that brings on this affliction with no other apparent cause. These causal factors, however, have been seen to be present whenever canker sores make their appearance, making them viable causes for the problem.
Canker sores can often be painful to the extent that eating or talking becomes extremely difficult. For this reason, canker sores are best treated when they first make their appearance. Irrespective of the cause, treating canker sores sooner rather than later means an earlier restoration to normalcy; more importantly, it can alleviate the often intense and shooting pain that sufferers are forced to go through.