What You Should Do When There’s a Canker Sore on Your Gums

To maintain a healthy body, you need to maintain a healthy mouth. Your mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body, so failure to protect and care for your mouth leaves the rest of your body susceptible to disease and other illnesses. That is why it is critical to take all forms of oral issues seriously. As long as you brush your teeth twice and floss at least once a day you'll reduce most kinds of problems. However, sometimes you might miss a brushing, or perhaps bacteria slipped between your teeth and you could not remove the bacteria. However it might happen, you may eventually develop a canker sore on the gums.

A canker sore on the gums is painful, and if not taken care of right away, might spread. On top of this, it's also unsightly and you might feel embarrassed to be in public with a visible canker sore. So, should a canker sore develop on the gums it is important to do what you can and correct the problem before it develops into a much more serious medical issue.

What Is a Canker Sore?

what is canker sore

Canker sores go by several names. If you were to see a doctor, they might call it a shallow lesion or, by its scientific term, an aphthous ulcer. This lesion forms either in the soft tissue of your mouth or on your gums. Now, canker sores often look cold sores. However, these differ from cold sores. Cold sores are contagious, but you can't spread canker sores to other people (although additional canker sores might develop inside your mouth if you do not change what is causing the sore in the first place).

If the canker sore is not visible on the gums, there is a good chance you can at least feel it inside of your mouth. That is because the shallow lesion forms a slight bump and is painful, especially when you are trying to eat.

Spotting Canker Sore

spotting canker sore

Chances are, you'll know when you have a canker sore. It's called a sore for a reason. However, as a canker sore on the gums is easily misidentified as a cold sore, it is important to know what you're dealing with. Canker sores are round and will appear on your gums, lips and in the gumline (it may even appear on your tongue). Some canker sores develop from eating extremely spicy food (often causing food blisters) or from eating too much citrus, although in most cases a canker sore will develop from other causes altogether (mentioned later).


Causes and Symptoms

There are a number of causes behind your canker sore. Some people are more susceptible to canker sores through certain causes than others. Due to this fact, if you develop a canker sore on the gums through one of the following causes there is a chance more will develop in the future. Some of the most common causes of a canker sore include:

  • Stress
  • Food allergies
  • Vitamin deficiencies (especially B12, iron and folate)
  • Mouth injury (causing blood cells to rupture)
  • Viral infection
  • Hormonal fluctuations



Stress causes a number of health fluctuations within your body. This is because as you become stressed your body will release different chemicals in order to help improve your mood. The chemicals released may alter the chemical balance, which leads to these different health problems. Due to this, you are more likely to catch a cold or see side effects like a canker sore on the gums.



If you have not yet been tested for food allergies, now might be the time. This is especially the case if you continue to develop canker sores even if you are not stressed or haven't suffered other medical injuries. Repetitive canker sores can be a sign you're having an allergic reaction to a particular food. It is a good idea to identify what this food is so you know when to avoid it.

Vitamin Deficiencies

vitamins deficiency

Vitamin deficiencies may occur if you are not eating a healthy diet. There are certain diets where you remove specific kinds of foods or only eat one kind of food. While these might help you lose weight, your body will suffer from not receiving adequate vitamins, resulting in these different medical problems. One of the best ways to avoid these kinds of problems, beyond a healthy diet, is to take a daily multi-vitamin.



You can suffer a mouth injury in several ways. The most common are sports related. A soccer or baseball might strike your face. You might catch an elbow or hand to the face in football, or you could even slip and fall on the ground, striking your mouth. Mouth injuries often occur not just because of the sudden impact to your mouth but because of the impact of your teeth against the lips. This may result in a canker sore on the gums. Thankfully, the chances of you sustaining repeat injuries isn't as likely (unless you partake in physical sports, such as boxing or MMA).



Viral infections come in many forms. Not everyone will suffer a canker sore on the gums from a viral infection. So even if you and someone else living with you suffer from the same infection it doesn't mean you both will develop a canker sore. It's simply how your body deals with the condition.


hormonal fluctuations

Last, hormonal fluctuations may be connected to stress. If you're stressed for a prolonged period, it will cause a hormonal imbalance. However, hormonal fluctuations may develop from all sorts of different issues, ranging from puberty or pregnancy to medications you take causing the hormonal fluctuations. With these different medical issues, there is no limit to what might cause a canker sore on the gums.

How to Deal With a Canker Sore on the Gums

taking vitamins

In most cases, a canker sore on the gums will go away on its own. Depending on the severity of the canker sore it will take one to two weeks for it to go away, but without any kind of medication or special treatment, as long as you are patient it will clear up on its own.

Of course, this doesn't help you much when it comes to pain. A canker sore on the gums is still painful and visible, in which case you'd probably like to clear it up faster. You can purchase over the counter topical anesthetics to apply directly to the canker sore. By doing this you will, at the least, reduce the pain you suffer from the canker sore.

You can also help reduce your canker sore (and prevent the development of these canker sores) by increasing your level of B12, iron and folate. Deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals may lead to the development of canker sores, but increasing your intake in these vitamins and minerals may help you reduce the chance of future canker sores coming back.

Preventing Future Canker Sores

Most canker sores develop from one of the mentioned issues. Most of these issues you are unable to address. However, once you know your mouth will suffer from a canker sore due to one of the given causes, there are a few different ways you can go about preventing additional canker sores.

First, you want to use a soft-bristle toothbrush and floss twice a day. This will avoid any kind of irritant from the mouth and reduce the possibility of such a sore developing. There are also toothpastes you can purchase that prevent canker sores if you become more susceptible to these sores (if you've developed more than one in the past several months). Look for toothpastes that are designated to fight against canker sores. Others indicate 20% Benzocaine, which is a toothpaste that develops a protective barrier around the gums.

If you continue to develop canker sores, it is important to go see your dentist. Your dentist will help you pinpoint the problem. Sometimes it is difficult to know exactly what is causing the canker sore, especially when multiple sores develop over the course of several months. Your dentist will perform tests and they might have you go in for an allergy test. In some instances, you might need oral medication to help clear up the problem. Just tell your dentist about any kind of medication or supplement you're taking (or if you're on a special diet).

Final Thoughts

Canker sores are painful lesions that develop on the soft tissue of your mouth. A canker sore on the gums may be unsightly and embarrassing, but canker sores inside your mouth are often more painful as these continually rub up against your teeth as you eat. Whatever the issue is, you need to do what you can to not only treat the current sore but to prevent the sores from coming back in the first place. Typically, these sores will go away on their own and are one-off situations. However, if the canker sores continue to develop, it is important for you to see your dentist for appropriate medical treatment.

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