Mouth Ulcers: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Although harmless, they can be very painful.

Mouth ulcers are a common and painful condition, but they can sometimes be treated without consulting your dentist or GP.

What Causes a Mouth Ulcer?

Mouth ulcers can affect your cheeks, lips, and tongue and can change in appearance from white, red, yellow, or gray and are often swollen.

Mouth ulcers can be caused by a wide range of factors including:

  • Accidental biting of the inside of your cheek.
  • Injury from a toothbrush (such as slipping while brushing).
  • Constant rubbing against sharp or misaligned teeth.
  • Constant rubbing against dentures or braces.
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Burns from eating hot food.
  • Irritation from strong antiseptics, such as mouthwashes.
  • Oral yeast infection .
  • Viral infections such as herpes simplex viral infection (cold sores).
  • Reaction to certain medications.
  • Skin rashes in the mouth (for example, lichen planus).
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Underlying gastrointestinal disease such as Crohn’s disease.
  • Oral cancer

Symptoms of mouth ulcers

Symptoms of a mouth ulcer depend on the cause, but can include:

  • One or more painful sores on a part of the skin that lines the mouth.
  • Swollen skin around the sores
  • Problems chewing or brushing teeth due to cuteness.
  • Irritation of sores from salty, spicy, or sour foods.
  • Loss of appetite

Aphthous ulcers generally occur on the softer lining of the lips, cheeks, sides of the tongue, floor of the mouth, and the back of the roof of the mouth and tonsil area.

These ulcers are generally no larger than a 5 cent piece. You can develop more than one aphthous ulcer at a time, and sometimes these ulcers are continuous.

Treatment for mouth ulcers

Most mouth ulcers are harmless and resolve on their own within 10 days. Other types of mouth ulcers, such as the aphthous variety or those caused by herpes simplex infection, need topical treatment such as a mouth rinse, ointment, or gel.

It is not possible to speed up recovery from ulcers, but symptoms can be controlled and the risk of complications reduced.

Treatment options for mouth ulcers include:

  • Avoid spicy and sour foods until ulcers heal.
  • Drink much liquid.
  • Regularly rinse your mouth with warm, slightly salty water.
  • Keep your mouth clean.
  • Take pain relievers, such as acetaminophen.
  • Apply antiseptic gel to the ulcers.
  • Use an alcohol-free medicated mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine gluconate.
  • Use a topical steroid mouthwash or ointment, usually prescribed by your dentist or oral medicine specialist.

If necessary, use immunosuppressive medications as prescribed by your oral health professional. (This is rarely required for severe oral ulceration.)

Prevention of mouth ulcers

Suggestions on how to reduce the chance of mouth ulcers include:

  • Brush your teeth gently with a soft toothbrush, being careful not to slip on the brush.
  • Eat a well balanced and nutritious diet.
  • Try to make sure underlying medical conditions are well controlled.

How can you treat them with things you have at home?

Ulcers can often be treated with things you have around your home or bathroom, here are some of the best ways to relieve pain:

  • Gargle with warm salt water (two teaspoons of salt in a glass).
  • A mixture of baking soda (a teaspoon with a little water to make a paste and then rub the ulcer throughout the day).
  •  There are a number of ways you can help relieve mouth ulcers, one of which is by gargling with salt water.
  • There are a number of ways that can help ease mouth ulcers, one being a salt water gargle.
  • Rub your ulcer with honey to retain moisture and speed up the healing process.
  • Chew a stick of celery because it has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Chew on some basil leaves and then drink some water because they have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

How can you avoid getting a canker sore?

There are several ways to avoid an ulcer, one is to avoid eating certain foods that can cause ulcers, others are:

  • Avoid chewing gum.
  • Use a soft bristle brush, which can reduce irritation in the mouth.
  • Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
  •  To avoid mouth ulcers, you should stop chewing gum and start using softer brushes.
  • To avoid mouth ulcers, you should stop chewing gum and start using softer brushes.

When to seek medical advice?

Ulcers are generally harmless, however there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for if you’re concerned, these include:

  • If your mouth ulcer has lasted three weeks or longer.
  • You have a recurring mouth ulcer.
  • Your mouth ulcer becomes more painful or red; This could be a sign of a bacterial infection, which may need treatment with antibiotics.