A mouth ulcer is commonly an oval or round sore appearing on the tongue, lips or on the inside of the cheeks.
They may be swollen, grey, yellow, red or white in colour and appear in different sizes. They can be extremely painful since they are located inside the mouth and harder to keep clean than a sore appearing on the skin. For this reason, it’s extremely important to keep your mouth clean when you have this type of ulcer to speed up the healing process.
They can be further aggravated by eating certain foods, such as those containing salt, or acidic fruits like lemons and oranges.
Mouth Ulcers and Their Causes
In a lot of cases a mouth ulcer is caused by biting the tongue or the inside of the cheek. You may wake up one morning with an ulcer and wonder what happened. Usually an early morning mouth ulcer indicates that you have been biting on an area during the night and now your mouth is reacting to it. Other causes include sores resulting from a pointy tooth, dentures that don’t fit properly, infections and chronic health issues.
Only in rare cases are the mouth ulcers cancerous in nature – but always get them check out by a competent health professional.
There are 2 different types of mouth ulcers. If you have a single episode with one and it disappears within a couple of weeks it was due to damage to the mouth lining. This is called a traumatic ulcer and while it is often quite painful, finding the cause of it and treating the ulcer with over the counter medications will make it go away usually in a week or two.
Your first port of call is to visit your pharmacist for some mouth ulcer gem, such as bonjela. If the ulcers persist for two weeks or more, speak to your GP.
Recurrent aphthous stomatitis is a condition where a person, usually a child or young people, develop repeated mouth ulcers on a fairly regular basis.
The cause of this condition isn’t known at this time but the one thing that is known is that it cannot be spread to others. Anyone suffering from recurring mouth ulcers should consider finding the triggers that bring them on by looking at the foods they eat, possible hormonal changes, the toothpaste they are using and any anxiety or stress that may be adding to the problem.
There are also certain drugs that can contribute to mouth ulcers such as beta blockers, anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drugs and others. These ulcers may also be caused by underlying conditions such as vitamin deficiencies, Crohn’s disease, reactive arthritis, mouth cancer, celiac disease, viral infections, hand and foot disease, Behcet’s disease and a weakened immune system.
How to Treat Mouth Ulcers
The treatment will all depend on the cause. If you are suffering from a traumatic ulcer there are over-the-counter treatments available to help ease the pain and to reduce the swelling. If you are biting your mouth at night, a dentist may recommend a mouth guard. If you have a pointy tooth, you may need to get it filed down so that it can no longer cause any harm. If you are having a problem with your dentures, you’ll need to call up your denturist for an emergency appointment.
It’s recommended that any treatment be started as quickly as possible once you realize that you have a mouth ulcer, to promote faster healing. It’s recommended that you talk to your pharmacist to find out what types of protective pastes, or gels, they may have to help. There are also mouthwashes available, along with sprays, and lozenges that contain painkilling and anti inflammatory ingredients.
These products may make your mouth feel numb or they may sting when first applied but these sensations will go away shortly. These products can be quite helpful if you are having problems eating or drinking.