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Woman touching lip for canker sores caused by stress

Are Canker Sores Caused by Stress?

Canker sores are one of the more mysterious medical conditions as they aren’t as well understood as most other mouth sores. While the actual cause of canker sores isn’t fully known, research does show that certain factors may contribute to causing them and they are more prevalent in some people as compared to others. Are canker sores caused by stress?

What are Canker Sores?

Canker sores are irritations on the inside of the mouth. If you have had one, you definitely know what they look and feel like. They are usually on the inside of the mouth in the following areas: cheeks, tongue, gums, and sometimes the lips. Canker sores aren’t extremely painful, but they are uncomfortable and irritating. They can last days to weeks depending on the person. They are often confused with cold sores but are much different.

Canker sores mostly impact adolescents and young adults. They often flare up during times of stress or high anxiety.

Who Gets Canker Sores Caused by Stress?

Canker sores affect roughly 20% of Americans. As stated, canker sores are often connected to (but not caused by) one’s stress levels. Women are more likely to suffer from canker sores caused by stress. They are also more likely to get them during the time of their menstrual cycle. There is a greater likelihood of having canker sores if a biological parent had a history of canker sores.

Stress and Canker Sores

Multiple studies have been conducted researching the link between canker sores and stress levels. One study found that there appeared to be a link between canker sores and stress, depression, and anxiety. Another study found that levels of anxiety and depression were higher in people with canker sores.

While there is no direct causal link, it is clear that stress and canker sores are inevitably connected. If you have canker sores and think they are connected to your stress levels, learning how to recognize and manage stress and stressful triggers is important for your overall health.

Stress Management

Stress is not only bad for your oral health (canker sores and gum disease), but it’s also problematic for your overall health (heart disease, diabetes, and obesity). If you have noticed that you get more canker sores caused by stress, it’s important to address what’s going on in order to minimize your stress.

Below you will find a few helpful tips for managing stress during anxiety-provoking times:

Deep Breathing

Practicing deep breathing exercise slows down the chaos occurring inside your brain and body. It can center your mind and body during a stressful time.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness have been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. Finding a helpful app or looking up some exercises online can be a major benefit.

Work-Life Balance

Discussing work-life balance with your family and/or partner is important. If you are a parent or a busy professional, you may not want to ask for help. However, asking for help may be necessary to get you back on your feet and into a balanced schedule again.

Talk Therapy

While many people may not have time to dedicate an hour of their life each week to therapy, it may be a major investment in your mental and physical health. Don’t rule out therapy if you have a high-stress lifestyle, you likely deserve the time talking out any difficulties you experience.


This is only if time permits. While exercise is great, it is not intended to add more stress to one’s schedule. If you can’t hit the gym, walk on your lunch break for 20 minutes and at least get some steps in.

While canker sores aren’t well understood, it is clear that stress is a factor that can trigger canker sores. If you experience canker sores often you may want to talk with your dentist and see how they can help.

Dentists in Thousand Oaks

If you are in need of a Thousand Oaks dentist, Lombard Dental Studio is a full-service dental practice. Contact Dr. Amir Jamsheed, Dr. Dadim Lebovich, and our team of experts for an appointment today!

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map245 Lombard St Thousand Oaks, CA 91360


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      245 Lombard St
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