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Why You Keep Getting Canker Sores & What To Do About It

why do i keep getting canker sores


Do you frequently wake up with painful canker sores on your tongue or lips? Are you constantly battling outbreaks that never seem to subside?

If so, you might be wondering, why do I keep getting canker sores?

Experts estimate that canker sores affect one in every 10 people about three to six times a year. Chronic canker sores, however, appear more frequently and cause much more pain and discomfort in your daily life. 

So if you keep getting canker sores, it’s important to understand the underlying causes of each outbreak and bolster your body’s ability to heal. 

What Are Canker Sores?

Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are shallow white lesions with inflamed pink borders that develop inside the lips and mouth. The sores are typically 1-4 mm in size, but aggressive sores can be larger than 5 mm. 

Though often confused with cold sores, canker sores are not contagious. Raw canker sores make it challenging to eat, sleep and even speak. Even with traditional therapies, they can take as long as two to three weeks to heal.

Defining Chronic Canker Sores

A chronic disease is defined as a condition that lasts more than one year and requires ongoing medical attention or limits your daily activities. Many chronic diseases disrupt and hinder your quality of life. 

You’re probably familiar with chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, but not all chronic diseases are life-threatening. Even canker sores are considered chronic if they occur repeatedly and impact your daily life. 

Common Causes of Chronic Canker Sores

If canker sores develop in your mouth more than a few times a year, an underlying trigger could be responsible for your outbreaks. Do you have any habits associated with the leading causes of canker sores? Any of the following factors could contribute to repeated canker sore outbreaks in your mouth.

Acidic Foods

Acidic fruits and vegetables, such as lemons, pineapples, tomatoes and oranges, can trigger canker sores. Some people are more prone to this reaction than others, so pay attention to the condition of your mouth before and after eating acidic foods. 

Irritation in the Mouth

Irritation to your cheeks, gums or tongue may cause canker sores to develop, including:

  • Vigorous brushing
  • Excessive flossing
  • Using toothpicks
  • Dirty dental appliances
  • Sharp braces

Do your best to avoid these triggers. Brush gently, clean dental appliances daily, and use care with floss and toothpicks. 

Ongoing Stress

We all know that stress manifests itself in many ways. Anecdotal evidence provides the strongest proof that stress can cause canker sores, but existing research also suggests a high correlation between canker sores and anxiety, depression and psychological stress.

Experts theorize that people experiencing stress may indulge in behaviors that trigger canker sores, such as biting their lip and cheeks or eating acidic foods.

why do i keep getting canker sores

Tips for Avoiding Future Outbreaks

The only thing better than a fast-healing canker sore is a canker sore that never develops at all! Use these tips to avoid future canker sore outbreaks. 

Choose Your Foods Carefully

Do your best to stay away from known canker sore triggers, especially if you’ve identified a certain food that irritates your mouth. These acidic foods are the most common culprits:

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Tomatoes
  • Pineapples
  • Gluten (if you have a gluten intolerance)

On the other hand, other foods like honey, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar can provide temporary relief to painful canker sores. 


Certain lifestyle habits can weaken your immune system and make it harder for your body to prevent and heal canker sores. If you want to avoid future outbreaks, it’s important to improve your sleep and stress management techniques. 

You can stop fatigue from zapping your immune system and making you vulnerable to canker sores with these tips:

  • Create a soothing sleep environment
  • Reduce technology and blue light before bedtime
  • Develop a consistent evening routine to wind down
  • Get regular exercise during the day

These stress management techniques can also help you cope with ongoing anxiety in order to prevent canker sores in the future:

  • Mindfulness breathing
  • Changing your surroundings
  • Helping others
  • Delegating small tasks to others
  • Talking to a professional

Incorporate Supplements

Research suggests that a nightly dose of vitamin B12 helps prevent canker sores in the mouth. The addition of vitamin C and lysine may also help to speed healing if taken at the first sign of a canker sore. 

Dental Hygiene

The soft tissue inside your mouth is sensitive, so it’s important to protect it from trauma and irritation. Brush and floss gently to avoid causing irritation, and do both regularly to keep sugar and acid from accumulating and causing inflammation. 

The introduction of dental appliances or braces can irritate the tissue in your mouth. As they rub up against the lining of your mouth, they can cause small canker sore lesions. 

Prevent this issue by using dental wax to shield your cheeks and gums from braces and other dental appliances.

Warnings Signs That You Need To See a Doctor

Mouth ulcers often signal that the body is in distress. If you’ve made positive lifestyle changes, but your canker sores still recur frequently, it may be time to see a doctor. Chronic, unresolved canker sores sometimes indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as an autoimmune disease or a vitamin deficiency. 

Examples of autoimmune diseases linked to chronic canker sores include:

  • Lupus
  • Behcet’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease)
  • AIDS

Your doctor will evaluate your health for additional signs of autoimmune diseases or vitamin deficiencies in order to determine the root cause of your health problems. With the right treatment, the frequency of your canker sore outbreaks may decrease or an H pylori infection.

Are Chronic Canker Sores a Sign of Cancer?

Canker sores are rarely a sign of cancer, but it’s possible. Mouth cancer can emerge in the form of an ulcer, so if you have canker sores that don’t heal or that make it difficult to eat and drink, visit a doctor or dentist with your concern. 

Whether you struggle with canker sores every week or once a year, there’s a way to minimize your pain and accelerate the healing process.

The Luminance RED is a cutting-edge alternative to traditional therapies used for canker sores. Light therapy shines a soothing, high-powered light on your lesion or on the area where you suspect it may form. This therapy gives your skin a burst of powerful energy that can speed up healing times by 49% and even stop future outbreaks before they start.

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