If you often suffer from mouth ulcers, this guide is for you. We understand that mouth ulcers are very irritating, as they cause difficulty in consuming your favorite meals and even speaking. At Vintage Oral Surgery, we will discuss the common causes of mouth ulcers and suggest ways to treat them.
What are mouth ulcers?
Mouth ulcers are small sores that develop on your lips, gums, palate, or inner cheeks. Several factors can trigger them, including hormonal changes, emotional stress, and minor injuries. In most cases, mouth ulcers are harmless and go away on their own within 10-14 days. But an ulcer that won’t heal may be a sign of mouth cancer.
These types of ulcers are recurring ulcers, affecting around 20 percent of the population in the United States. In most cases, aphthous ulcers have no known cause. However, in a small number of people, these ulcers may be due to iron, folate, or vitamin B deficiency.
Symptoms of mouth ulcers
The symptoms of a mouth ulcer typically depend on the cause, but they may include:
- Swollen skin near the sores
- One or more sores on the skin near the mouth
- Tenderness and problems while brushing or chewing
- Loss of appetite
- Irritation of the sores by spicy, sour, or salty foods
Causes of mouth ulcers
The following factors can contribute to mouth ulcers:
- Injury while brushing
- Accidentally biting the inside part of your cheek
- Constant wear from sharp or broken teeth
- Constant rubbing against braces or dentures
- Irritation due to strong antiseptics like a mouthwash
- Burning from eating hot food
- Viral infections such as cold sores
- Skin rashes in your mouth like lichen planus
- Certain medications’ side effects
- Autoimmune diseases
- Gastrointestinal diseases such as coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease
- Underlying iron or vitamin B deficiency
- Worsening of ulcers because of illness, stress, or fatigue
- Mouth cancer
Mouth ulcers that don’t heal
Visit your dentist if you get mouth ulcers frequently or don’t clear up within 14 days. Remember, never ignore a persistent mouth ulcer, especially if you consume tobacco and alcohol regularly. This is because alcohol and tobacco can increase your risk of developing mouth cancer.
Treatment for mouth ulcers
Most ulcers resolve by themselves within 10-14 days. Other types of mouth ulcers, like cold sores or those caused by herpes simplex infection, require topical treatment, such as gel, ointment, or a mouthwash.
You can manage the symptoms and risk of complications by doing the following treatment options:
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid sour and spicy foods
- Clean your mouth regularly
- Apply antiseptic gel to the affected area
- Do salt water rinses and keep the solution in your mouth for 4 minutes at a time
- Apply a topical alcohol-free mouthwash prescribed by your dentist
- In severe cases, your oral health professional may prescribe you immunosuppressant medication
When to visit the oral health professional for mouth ulcers
If mouth ulcers have persisted for 14 days or more or interfere with your daily activities, see your dentist right away.
In some cases, your dentist may require blood tests to check whether you have an underlying deficiency or any inflammatory condition. Please get in touch with the Houston oral surgeon for more information. We look forward to helping you and your family!