Dr. John: Canker sore, copper IUDs

10:02 AM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Dr. John Torres from Premier Urgent Care answers your questions every week. If you have a medical question for Dr. John, send it to mornings@9news.com and make sure to have Ask Dr. John in the subject line.

Question #1
I have canker sore from my Visalines braces I have now had for 3 yrs. I'm using them now every night. Tried everything, but nothing works.
Dentist told me just to wash mouth out with salt. Should I take b12 supplements? Barbara


Answer
Since we like to use big, fancy words we've given canker sores the medical term aphthous ulcers. They can be very painful and last anywhere from 4 to 7 days. For people that suffer from them they usually know what triggers a canker sore to start. This includes things like stress and objects that injure the gums like hard food objects or braces. Aphthous ulcers can also be brought on by excess citrus foods or some vitamin deficiencies. Once you get this type of sore salt water rinsing can help cut down how long it sticks around. Although it sounds a little counter intuitive to put salt on a wound like this, it actually helps sooth the pain and can speed healing a little bit. Other things that might help include folic acid, vitamin B-12 and zinc, but these only usually help if you're deficient in them to begin with. There are also some pain relief ointments and gels that can make them a little more comfortable. Steroid pastes can also help. If canker sores continue to be a problem visiting a doctor to get them cauterized, where the sore is burned after it's numbed up, can cut down how long they are present by a day or two.

Question #2
I have the 10 yr, copper IUD. My 10 yr mark hit November of 2012. What exactly does 10 yr mean? Will it no longer be effective? Or will it cause a health concern if it is not taken out? I currently do not have insurance the reason why I still have it in place, but have been rather concerned of the not knowing. Thank you, Alexis

Answer
IUDs, intrauterine devices, are very effective forms of birth control but like all other medical devices or medications need to be used correctly. Some IUDs, like Mirena, contain a small amount of medication that is released slowly over time to help with birth control. Others, like the copper IUD, mostly work without the added medication. The ones with added medication typically have shorter expiration dates. Once they reach their expiration date they become less effective. Using them longer can result in unwanted pregnancies. The copper ones are typically effective longer, up to 10 years. Beyond this time limit the risk of other problems goes up. The main concern is an increase risk of infections and a higher chance of the IUD imbedding itself into the wall of the uterus. If this happens it can also result in infections or in permanent infertility. The bottom line is that an IUD should be removed when it reaches its expiration date both to reduce the chances of an unwanted pregnancy and to protect you from infections and infertility. 

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