MOUTH ULCERS

Have you noticed a painful area in your mouth that feels like a blister or an ulcer? Everyone had developed a mouth ulcer sometime in their life. While they are mostly harmless, they are formed due to trauma like a sharp tooth or REALLY spicy food (remember that biryani you had?!), some may need a deeper look. Find out what you can do about mouth ulcers.

What are Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers are surface erosions that break the continuity of the skin lining the inside of the mouth. They are commonly seen on the lips and cheeks and are generally quite harmless. Mouth ulcers may occur as a single ulcer or multiple erosions at a time depending on the cause.

Causes of Mouth Ulcers

Ulcers can occur due to various reasons. Some of the common causes of ulcers are listed below:

 

  • Trauma from cheek/tongue biting or ill-fitting dentures/oral appliances like braces

  • Allergic reaction to medications/food/toothpaste or mouthwash

  • Medications like antibiotics

  • Infections like herpes simplex or mononucleosis

  • Hormonal imbalance

  • Emotional stress

  • Lack of nutrients in the diet

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • Gastroenterological conditions like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis

  • HIV/AIDS

  • Mouth cancer

Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of mouth ulcers are:

 

  • Painful round to oval sores with red borders  in and around the skin lining the mouth

  • Pain and discomfort while eating or drinking

  • Loss of appetite

  • Irritation with salty, spicy or sour foods

  • Severe sores may also present with fever, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes

When to seek professional help

Most ulcers clear out on their own after a period of 10-14 days and do not require any treatment. However, there are certain situations where you may have to visit your dentist. They are:

  • When you have an ulcer that has not healed even after 3 weeks

  • Unusually large ulcers

  • Recurrent ulceration

  • When you're unwell or have any underlying medical conditions

  • Extreme pain despite taking medications

Treatment

The treatment of mouth ulcers depends on the underlying cause of the ulcer. Most ulcers do not warrant any particular treatment. Other types of ulcers like those caused by herpes simplex and large aphthous ulcers may require topical treatment.

 

To alleviate the symptoms of the ulcer, the following precautions may be followed :

  • Avoid hot and spicy foods

  • Drink plenty of fluids

  • Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol

  • Keep your mouth clean with regular rinsing, preferably with salted warm water

  • Alcohol free mouth rinses may be used for rinsing

  • Topical analgesic gels can be applied onto the ulcer to relieve the pain

  • In certain cases, steroid ointments may be prescribed

  • Nutritional supplements like vitamin capsules may also help

Prevention

Mouth ulcers can be prevented to a certain degree by consuming a well-balanced, nutritious diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is also essential to drink plenty of fluids. Brushing of teeth needs to be done with utmost caution, to prevent injury to the surrounding soft tissues. Lastly, any underlying medical conditions or disorders need to be treated immediately.