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Mouth Ulcers: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

By Padmapreetham Mahalingam

Mouth ulcers are harmless, yet painful and sometimes discomforting. They are usually found inside the mouth. Individuals who are chemically sensitive can develop mouth ulcers as they sometimes result from odour sensitivity.

Generally small in size, mouth ulcers can range from one millimetre up to several centimetres across. There can also be breaks-in the moist inside surfaces of the mouth.

They have a raised border and the appearance can be grey or yellow or white. Mouth ulcers are extremely common among people. However, it can be a cause for concern when they become a recurrent problem.

Causes Of Mouth Ulcers [1]

1. Accidentally biting the inside of the cheeks while talking or eating

2. Deficiencies of iron, folic acid or vitamin B12

3. Allergies to foods such as chocolate, peanuts, eggs, cereals, almonds, strawberries, cheese and citrus fruits

4. Viral infection (cold sores)

5. Gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease

6. Reactions caused due to medication

7. Spicy food

8. Poor oral hygiene

9. Constant contacts with dentures or braces [2]

10. Emotional stress

11. An allergic reaction due to oral bacteria

12. People suffering from constipation will also be ill with mouth ulcers

13. Immediately after quitting smoking some people will get mouth ulcers

Symptoms Of Mouth Ulcers [2]

The ulcers usually occur towards the front of the mouth. The person can experience burning or prickling sensation even before the appearance of the ulcers.

During extreme outbreaks of mouth ulcers then the person would experience fever, sluggishness and swollen gums. If it fails to heal within a month then it has to be investigated with a biopsy.

Diagnosis Of Mouth Ulcers

Doctors will look inside the mouth to examine your mouth ulcer. They will also look at your medical history to determine why you get ulcers. If your mouth ulcer is mild then there is no need to have a formal diagnosis. You need to consult a doctor if the mouth ulcer is causing pain or if it is recurrent. Make sure to visit the doctor if your mouth ulcers has lasted more than 3 weeks.[3]

The diagnosis is usually easy to make because there is a history of trauma associated with ill-fitting dentures or other minor injury to the oral activity.[4]

Treatment Of Mouth Ulcers

There is a wide range of products that are marketed for the temporary relief and treatment of mouth ulcers. They contain corticosteroids, local anaesthetics, protectants, astringents and antiseptics. Pain relief creams or ointments like benzocaine are beneficial. It is important to rinse your mouth regularly with salt water and baking soda to manage your oral health.

You can apply chamomile tea on the ulcers or try to swish it in your mouth and then swallow. If you are always prone to mouth ulcers then try to boost your immune system with immune enhancing herbs. The herbs are echinacea, astragalus and wild indigo.[5]

Chlorhexidine gluconate is the most commonly prescribed mouthwash for mouth ulcers. It has to be used twice a day. Hydrocortisone is the most commonly prescribed corticosteroid that is in the form of a lozenge which slowly dissolves in the mouth.[6]

If there is an underlying nutrient deficiency then one daily supplement of 10-50 milligrams of B-complex vitamins is worth a try to mend your health.

Moreover, even zinc helps to cure and heal the wounds and it manages to support tissue growth in children[7] . Ice can soothe the pain and it would dry up the sores quickly. It is essential that you apply it directly for forty minutes or several times in a day. It can allow the scab to heal.

How To Prevent Mouth Ulcers

• Always consume a balanced diet. If you have mild mouth ulcers, stick to a soft food diet.

• Get regular dental check-ups done.

• Always use a soft bristled brush. You can use mouth sponges as well.

• Do not use a toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulphate.

• Avoid consumption of salty and acidic foods, especially if you have a mild mouth ulcer.

• Make sure that you rinse your mouth after all meals.

• Consumption of whole grains and alkaline fruits and vegetables will reduce the occurrence of mouth ulcers.

• Multivitamins can be taken to keep mouth infections at bay.

View Article References
  1. [1] Scully, C., & Shotts, R. (2000). ABC of oral health. Mouth ulcers and other causes of orofacial soreness and pain.BMJ (Clinical research ed.),321(7254), 162–165.
  2. [2] Sharma, R., Pallagatti, S., Aggarwal, A., Sheikh, S., Singh, R., & Gupta, D. (2018). A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial on Clinical Efficacy of Topical Agents in Reducing Pain and Frequency of Recurrent Aphthous Ulcers.The open dentistry journal,12, 700.
  3. [3] Singh, R. B., & Batta, P. (2018). Herpes simplex virus keratitis mimicking Acanthamoeba keratitis: a clinicopathological correlation.BMJ case reports,2018, bcr-2018.
  4. [4] Plana-Pla, A., Solé, L. C., Garcia, A. B., & Valdemoros, R. L. (2019). Mycophenolate mofetil-induced mouth ulcers in a kidney transplant patient: Case report and literature review.Nefrología (English Edition),39(1), 80-83.
  5. [5] Parvathi Devi, M. K., Ramesh, D. N. S. V., Shrinivas Koppal, A. R. B., & Thriveni Rukmangada, A. A. B. (2014). Efficacy of rebamipide and levamisole in the treatment of patients with recurrent aphthous ulcer-a comparative study.Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR,8(11), ZC119.
  6. [6] Zhu, S., Shi, Q., & Lu, J. (2018). Curative effect of oral ulcer powder on the treatment of recurrent aphthous ulcer.Pakistan journal of pharmaceutical sciences,31.
  7. [7] Sun, H., Zhu, X., Li, D., & Cheng, T. (2019). Effects of a compound vitamin B mixture in combination with GeneTime® on radiation-induced oral mucositis.Journal of International Medical Research, 0300060519831171.

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