canker sore on young woman's lip

If you’re addicted to all of those pimple-popping videos, you might be one of those people who also question whether you can pop a canker sore. Even though they can swell up with a blister sometimes, do canker sores burst or can you pop them to get rid of them once and for all? The answer is NO. And in fact, popping them can cause you a host of other problems.

What Is A Canker Sore?

There are a couple of different types of “ulcers” that people get in their mouths and the inside of the cheeks. First, there are aphthous ulcers, or what I just like to call “regular” ulcers. A lot of people also call them “canker sores.” And then there are cold sores, AKA “fever blisters”, which are totally different.[1]

A canker sore can pop up practically anywhere on your mucosal tissues (the soft pink skin inside your mouth.) Canker sores tend to look white or grayish, with redness or swelling immediately around the edges.

Typically, canker sores come from some type of physical irritation. Like when your braces rub the inside of your mouth or you bite down wrong on a tortilla chip. They can also develop if you’re sick, coming down with something, eat spicy/acidic food, or slip and jab yourself with a toothbrush. We also know that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) tend to get canker sores more frequently than people who don’t have IBS.[2]

Canker sores are not a type of herpes blister-like cold sores, so they aren’t viral in that sense.

Can You Pop a Canker Sore

Typically, most of us don’t notice that we even have a canker sore in our mouth until it’s already raw. Do canker sores burst if they get blisters on them? Yes. Since your mouth has tons of salivary glands, it’s still possible for a blister to form in your mouth that isn’t caused by mouth sores or cold sores.[3]

Can you pop a canker sore if you’re seeing one flare-up suddenly? No. First off, you don’t know that it’s for sure a canker sore or a cold sore. If you pop it and it’s a cold sore, you’ve just spread the virus all over your mouth and fingers. Second, popping any type of oral ulcer basically sets that area up for an infection. Inside the mouth, there is a ton of bacteria in it, even if you brush your teeth every day. You don’t want to pop a canker sore because—get ready for a super long run-on sentence—it’s like immediately opening up a wound inside of your mouth and inviting all of those germs inside of it and making the situation totally worse.

What Is A Canker Sore Filled With?

If you get a blister on top of your canker sore, it’s usually a harmless liquid or pus. Pus usually has things like dead tissues and white blood cells because of the infection in that space. [4]

Sometimes you can even get a “mucocele”, which is like a fluid-filled blister right over a salivary gland. Anytime your mouth starts watering, fluid fills the blister and makes it look like something you need to pop. But mucoceles are not canker sores.

Most of the time when you see a canker sore, there isn’t any type of a blister that needs to be popped. If there is, usually the canker sore bursts while you’re eating or brushing your teeth.

You don’t need to pop a canker sore, because the thin top layer of tissue is usually already rubbed raw, exposing the skin underneath.

How Do I Get Rid Of A Canker Sore Fast?

If you want to get rid of a canker sore, don’t pop it. Otherwise, you’ll just drag the recovery process out longer than normal.

Avoid irritating your canker sores. That means no alcoholic mouth rinse or acidic foods. And be careful not to accidentally jab it with your toothbrush.

You can ask your dentist for a “miracle mouthwash” if you have an outbreak of extremely painful canker sores. Or simply rinse your mouth with Milk of Magnesia (don’t swallow it). You can also apply a small amount directly onto your ulcer with a Q-tip or cotton ball.

Home remedies like a baking soda rinse are helpful. Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of warm water and rinse with it a few times a day. Salt water works too, but it might be a little more irritating.

If your dentist has soft tissue laser technology, they may be able to treat the sore to help speed up the healing process and reduce irritation.

How To Prevent Canker Sores

Being aware of what triggers canker sores is the best way to prevent them.

For example, if you’re currently wearing braces and there’s a small metal area rubbing the inside of your mouth, you may want to go ahead and put some orthodontic wax over it so that it won’t rub your skin.

People who tend to be sensitive to acidic or salty foods will want to watch their diet. If you know you have flare-ups every time you drink orange juice, limit how much you drink and then go rinse your mouth out with water right afterward. Tomato and lemon are top offenders, too.

Taking certain types of vitamins and supplements can also be helpful. Such as Zinc, B-12, Omega3, Iron, and Folic Acid. Sucking on a Zinc lozenge could help shorten your recovery time.

Also, be sure to check your toothpaste. If it contains an ingredient named “sodium laurel sulfate”, switch it out for one that’s SLS-free to see if it helps. Sodium lauryl sulfate has been linked to canker sores and immune system problems.[5]

Talk With A Dentist About Canker Sores

If you get a lot of canker sores on a regular basis, go ahead and make a point to talk to your dentist. They can evaluate your mouth to see what’s going on, help address any risk factors, and make a firm diagnosis if it isn’t a canker sore. Sometimes they can even prescribe medication or treat it with a laser to reduce discomfort, speed up healing, and your recovery time!

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