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Oral Health

Other Problems

Other oral health problems may include:
Cold Sores
If you've ever had a cold sore, you're not alone. A half-million people get one every year. Once exposed to the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1 -- which causes cold sores), it can hide in the body for years. Getting too much sun, having mild fevers that occur with a cold, or stress can trigger the virus and cause symptoms such as:
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged and tender lymph nodes
  • More cold sores.
These sores are highly contagious and usually form on the lips and sometimes under the nose or under the chin. The sores heal in about 7 to 10 days without scarring. You can buy medicines at the drug store or grocery store to put on the cold sore to numb or relieve the pain. If cold sores are a problem for you, talk with your doctor or dentist about a prescription for an antiviral drug to help lower your chances of getting these kinds of viral infections.
Canker Sores
Mostly harmless, canker sores appear as ulcers with a white or gray base and a red border inside the mouth. They occur in women more often than men, usually during their periods.
The reason why canker sores appear is unknown, but some experts believe that problems with the immune system (the system in our bodies that fights disease), bacteria, or viruses may be involved. Fatigue, stress, or allergies can increase your chances of getting a canker sore. You also might get one if you have a cut inside your cheek or on your tongue. Canker sores tend to be tiny and heal by themselves in one to three weeks.
If you get a large sore (larger than 1 centimeter), it may need to be treated with medicine. Staying away from hot and spicy foods can help the pain. Using mild mouthwashes, salt water, or swabbing the sore with milk of magnesia or with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water might also help. There is no proven way to prevent canker sores, but if you get this oral health problem often, take note of anything that might be irritating your mouth, and talk to your dentist or dental hygienist.
A Dose of Reassurance for Parents of Picky Eaters
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