OH My Aching Canker Sores !
New Canker Sore Therapy Found
New research has been reported by a team of physicians at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev regarding the treatment of painful canker sores. The research, which was led by Dr. Illia Volkov, found that a nightly dose of vitamin B12 could help prevent these painful oral sores. The findings were reported in the Jan/Feb issue of The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.
The researchers tested the effects of vitamin B12 on 58 randomly selected canker sore patients who received either a dose of 1,000mcg of B12 by mouth before they went to bed or a placebo (fake dose). They were tested monthly for six months. The findings showed that approximately 74% or three quarters of the patients of the treated group achieved remission at the end of the study. With these patients the findings also showed a monthly decrease in the duration and the number of ulcers that re-appeared. Of the lesions that did appear in the mouth, there was a significant decrease, outbreak and duration of the canker sores, especially of those who stayed on the Vitamin B12 levels for over 5 months. Further research is being performed to evaluate the correct levels of B12.
Recurrent canker sores are one of the most common inflammatory conditions of the mouth, afflicting about 20 percent of the general population. The medical terms for canker sores are aphthous stomatitis or aphthae.
Canker sores begin as small oval or round reddish swellings, usually on the movable parts of the mouth such as the tongue and the inside linings of the lips an cheeks. These swellings usually rupture within a day, are covered by a thin white or yellow membrane, and become edged by a red halo. The size of the sores varies from being an eighth of an inch wide in minor infections to an inch and a quarter wide in more severe cases. Fever is rare and there rarely is an association of canker sores with other diseases. Usually a person will only experience a single or a few canker sores at a time. These sores generally heal within 2 weeks. Severe forms of the sores may leave scars.
Most people experience their first bout with canker sores when they are between the ages of 10 and 20 although children as young as 2 years of age may develop the condition. The frequency of canker sore recurrences varies considerably. Some people may only experience one or two episodes a year, whereas others may have a continuous series of canker sores. Most people experience tingling or pain in the area of the mouth where canker sores later develop.
What Causes Canker Sores?
It is not known what causes canker sores in all patients although more than one cause is likely even for individual patients. Attempts to find bacteria or viruses linked with the disease have not proven fruitful although an allergy to a type of bacteria commonly found in the mouth may cause some people to develop canker sores. The sores might also be an allergic reaction to certain foods eaten. In addition, there is research that suggests canker sores may be caused by a faulty immune system that uses the body’s defenses against disease to attack and destroy the normal cells of the mouth or tongue.
British studies indicate that canker sores in about 20 percent of all patients are partially caused by nutritional deficiencies, especially a lack of vitamin B12, folic acid and iron. Similar studies performed in the United States, however, have not confirmed these findings. In a small percentage of patient’s canker sores occur in conjunction with gastrointestinal problems, such as an inability to digest certain cereals, and thus appear to be part of a generalized disorder of the digestive tract.
Female sex hormones apparently play a role in causing canker sores. Many women only have bouts of canker sores during certain phases of their menstrual cycles. The majority of women, in addition, experience improvement or remission of their canker sores during pregnancy. In clinical studies, researchers have also used hormone therapy to successfully treat some women.
Both emotional stress and injury to the mouth, such as scratching by abrasive foods or a stray toothbrush bristle, can trigger outbreaks of canker sores although these factors probably do not cause the disorder.