What are aphtae (canker sores)?
Aphtae are small ulcers ranging from 1 mm to 2 cm which appear on the inner side of the cheeks and lips, and on the gums and tongue. Women have been found to be affected by them more often.
What causes aphtae?
Aphtae result from an inflammation or infection caused by fungi, viruses and bacteria, a trauma caused by biting, a bad dental prosthesis, irritation caused by a decayed tooth, a coarse toothbrush, bad oral hygiene, stress and exhaustion, a viral infection, food allergies, consumption of contaminated food, unwashed fruits and vegetables, deficiency of Vitamin C, iron, B complex vitamins, weak immune system.
Sometimes they can be a symptom of some serious disease – AIDS, tumors, leukemia, after chemotherapy, syphilis, Behcet’s disease, etc.
What are the symptoms?
At the beginning the symptoms resemble miniature reddish craters with a dark yellow rim. Later, a yellowish coating occurs in their bottom. Unlike herpes, they do not form a blister. In the best case scenario, aphtae go without general complaints. Very often, however, they get infected by bacteria and fungi leading to high fever, swelling of the submandibular lymph nodes. In some cases, there is bleeding. There is a certain rather unpleasant pain. The aphtae hurt during consumption of some foods or drinks – hard foods (because of mechanical irritation) and foods with high acidity (chemical irritation) – fruits, vegetables, soup, vinegar, tomato juice, etc.
How long does it take for aphtae to disappear?
They emerge suddenly, and just as suddenly die down in between 3-4 to 20 days.
Are aphtae contagious?
Even though both dentistry and medicine are so advanced, experts are still in disagreement over whether the aphtae are contagious or not.
Aphtae should be prevented from becoming chronic because it takes a lot of time and efforts to treat them. A checkup by a dentist is necessary in order to diagnose the condition, and to assign medical tests if needed. They might be necessary because of the possibility of a bacterial infection (a standard peripheral blood smear test), and in case of doubts over a disease going with immune deficiency (leukogram – counting of the blood cells by type), a Wasserman test for syphilis, etc.
When you suffer from aphtae, you should not drink coffee, smoke, chew gum, or use breath refreshment products. Consume soft and liquid foods without irritating spices. When you are getting treatment from aphtae, you must reduce to a minimum the consumption of meat and fish – animal protein “acidifies” the organism, breaks the alkaline-acid balance, and slow down the treatment. When the causes are severe exhaustion and stress, take measures to neutralize them – go out for a walk or immerse yourself in your hobby.
The treatment of aphtae uses ointments with direct painkilling, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic effect. When there is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are also used; in cases of high fever – antipyretics; in cases of considerable bleeding – calcium, rutascorbin. Additional intake of Vitamin C is also recommended.