Mouth Ulcers


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Mouth ulcers are common and can be due to many differing factors.  The simplest explanation of a mouth ulcer is that they are exposed nerve endings in the mouth lining.  They are quite painful to touch and can cause discomfort when you eat, drink or even talk.  Common mouth ulcers are canker sores or cold sores, but mouth ulcers can also occur due to infection, virus or other medical conditions. 

Canker Mouth Ulcers

These are round in shape and have a yellow centre and red, inflamed edge.  Minor canker sores are small and inconsequential.  Normally these clear up quickly if left alone.  Major canker mouth ulcers are larger and aren’t necessarily round in shape.  These can be very painful, and might take months to dissipate. 

Reasons for Canker Mouth Ulcers

  • Injury to the mouth – this can include burns, cuts, biting your lip or cheek.  These are known as traumatic mouth ulcers. 
  • Acidic/Spicy food – these are thought to increase the chances of your developing a canker mouth ulcer.
  • Chewing tobacco – it is believed that chewing tobacco can increase the developments of canker mouth ulcers.
  • Aphthous Somatitis – This is a common problem that leads to bouts of many mouth ulcers and children and young adults.  There is no known cause of aphthous somatitus but it is not infectious and is not considered to be an inherited condition. 

Cold Sores

These are generally caused by the herpes simplx virus (HSV) and are swollen, alike to a blister and the area of skin underneath is generally quite swollen.  Usually these heal over with no scarring and no marks. 

There are other forms of mouth ulcers that are formed due to other, more serious conditions.  These can range from herpes, immune disorders or bowel disease.  There is also a chance that ulcers develop due to iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 deficiencies.  Mouth cancer can start as a small ulcer with no noticeable cause that won’t dissipate with any treatments.  If an ulcer lasts longer than three weeks it is necessary to see a dentist to determine the cause of the ulcer.

Mouth Ulcer Treatment

You need to have the underlying reasons for the ulcer looked at in order to treat the ulcer itself.  For small ulcers there are over the counter medications that can be taken and pain-killers will help with any discomfort.  These take the forms of pastilles and gels and are inexpensive.  If you have any concerns about a mouth ulcer then it is important to visit your dentist.  For a mouth ulcer caused by sharp teeth or an ill fitting denture or brace the area can be smoothed down and sometimes a wax can be placed over the sharp areas. 

Mouth Ulcer Prevention

Keeping a good standard of oral hygiene is necessary to help combat mouth ulcers.  You must take care and give your teeth and gums attention when brushing.  Regular visits to your dentist will ensure that any problems you may be developing are nipped in the bud.  This will prevent mouth ulcers from forming and stop small ulcers from getting larger and more serious.  Stress can also be a reason for mouth ulcers, so it is important to deal with any stress in your life before they form into physical symptoms.


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