Mouth ulcers are clearly defined, oval or round sores that can be extremely painful. They are also known as aphthous ulcers and are incredibly common. In fact most people will experience them at least once in their life time. Mouth ulcers range in size and can be minor, major or even herpetiform which is when a number of tiny ulcers merge together to create one large one. No matter which you suffer from it can be an uncomfortable experience.
Causes of Mouth Ulcers
The main mouth ulcer causes are due to damage inside the mouth, and not infection like some people believe. For example if you bite the inside of your mouth by accident or brush your mouth whilst brushing your teeth incorrectly you may find that a mouth ulcer soon follows. There are no known causes of mouth ulcers that are recurrent although experts do believe that anxiety, stress and hormonal changes may play a part. Experts also believe that the causes of mouth ulcers can be linked to specific types of food including cheese, chocolate, tomatoes, coffee, strawberries, almonds and peanuts but nothing has been definitively proven.
Other possible mouth ulcer causes include:
• Stopping smoking – this is normal and is just your bodies way of dealing with a change in chemicals.
• Underlying conditions such as an iron or vitamin B12 deficiency.
• Medications such as beta blockers, angina medication, aspirin and ibuprofen.
• Gastrointestinal disease.
Mouth Ulcer Treatment
Normally treatment for mouth ulcers is not required as most heal on their own naturally. The only time when specific mouth ulcer treatment may be required is if they are large or if they are interfering with your day to day life. In this case medication may be prescribed by your doctor which could consist of painkillers, corticosteroids and an antimicrobial mouthwash. If you do not require mouth ulcer treatment there are a few things you can do to limit the mouth ulcer pain. These include:
• Avoiding eating hard foods or foods that are known to cause mouth ulcers until the mouth ulcer is cured
• Using a soft toothbrush when brushing your teeth
• Trying to avoid feelings of stress and anxiety
The only true mouth ulcer cures are those that can be prescribed by a doctor but if left to heal naturally most mouth ulcers do not last for more than one week.
Mouth Ulcer Prevention
To prevent mouth ulcers from occurring it is vital to lead a healthy lifestyle, manage stress effectively, eat a balanced diet and have good oral hygiene. Your dentist should be able to give you further advice and clear anything from your mouth that could cause mouth ulcers to reoccur.
If you have an ulcer that is still visible after three weeks it is highly important to speak to your doctor to rule out the possibility of mouth cancer.