Mouth Ulcers – Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Options
Also known as a canker sore in your mouth, a mouth ulcer is a painful lesion in your gums and mouth. Although you are not at risk of any harm, these ulcers cause a lot of discomfort and can prevent you from eating, drinking, or even doing a good job brushing your teeth.
Canker sores come in different sizes and shapes. The kind of mouth ulcer you have determines the signs and symptoms you experience.
What do mouth ulcers look like?
Mouth ulcers sores look like small, flat circles of oval lesions with whitish to yellowish centers and a red border.
Signs of a mouth ulcer
Are you experiencing a white sore in your mouth? You need to know the signs and symptoms of a mouth ulcer to be sure you are battling a canker sore.
Depending on what the cause of your condition is, mouth ulcer symptoms include:
- Painful sores on the mouth’s lining
- Irritation of sores caused by eating sour/spicy/salty foods
- Difficulty chewing food
- Swollen skin where you have the sores
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty brushing due to tenderness
In the case of Aphthous ulcers, they mostly appear on the lining of your cheeks and lips, as well as tongue sides, tonsil area, behind your palate, and floor of your mouth. Ulcers of this kind are similar to a nickel in size. Aphthous ulcers usually develop in groups and are persistent in some cases.
What causes mouth ulcers?
Mouth ulcer causes are not fully defined but different factors and triggers are known to cause canker sores. Some of them are as follows:
- Small injuries due to trauma from accidental bites, injury from sports, brushing your mouth hard, or dental work.
- Sensitivity to acidic foods such as pineapples and citrus.
- Sensitivity to trigger foods such as coffee and chocolate
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) contained in mouth rinses and toothpaste
- Vitamin deficiency, especially when it comes to essential vitamins like B12, iron, etc.
- Allergies due to mouth bacteria
- Infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi
- Inadequate sleep and emotional stress
- Changes in the hormonal balance due to menstruation
- Dental braces trauma or irritation
Other conditions can also lead to canker sores. These conditions can be more severe and will need urgent medical care. They include celiac disease, diabetes mellitus, as well as inflammatory bowel disease, and Behcet’s disease. HIV/AIDS and a compromised immune system could make your body start attacking your mouth cells rather than fighting bacteria and viruses.
Are mouth ulcers contagious?
Mouth sores are more likely to occur in women and adolescents. It also has a link with family history and will occur in people whose family line shows the prevalence of mouth ulcers. The condition is not contagious and will heal on its own within a couple of days or weeks. But if you notice that your mouth ulcer gives you so much pain and is large, you should consider seeing your doctor, especially if it’s showing no sign of healing.
Mouth ulcer treatment – Is there a cure for canker sores?
If you are worried and looking to find a way to get rid of mouth ulcers, you don’t have to panic. This condition is basically harmless and will go away on its own in a week to two weeks. But some types of mouth ulcers will require you to seek canker sore treatment. This involves the use of topical treatment options like gel, as well as ointment or mouthwash.
There’s not many ways to hasten ulcer recovery but you can manage the symptoms.
Canker-Rid is a great immediate relief option for canker sores. It is effective and heals ulcers quickly. Colgate Peroxyl Mouth Sore Rinse helps promote healing and irritation from sores in the mouth. Do not use for more than 7 consecutive days.
Some other mouth ulcer treatment options are as follows:
- Do not consume foods that are sour or spicy until you’ve resolved your ulcers.
- Use warm, salty water to rinse your mouth from time to time
- Painkillers like paracetamol can help
- Take steps to keep your mouth clean always
- Take lots of fluids
- Antiseptic gel can help with your ulcers
- Get yourself a medicated mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine gluconate and that’s alcohol-free
- Topical ointments that contain steroids can be applied but seek advice from your dentist first
- Your oral health expert may also prescribe immunosuppressant medication in rare cases.
Home remedies for canker sores
There are simple ways to get rid of canker sores at home. You can try out the home remedies discussed below to help you treat your mouth ulcers –
Honey has lots of antibacterial properties that make it an effective weapon against mouth ulcers. It helps to moisturize your mouth while keeping it from getting dry. Simply apply some raw honey directly on your canker sore and you can mix it with turmeric to facilitate the recovery. The application should be done every few hours.
- Fortified orange juice
This is another canker sore cure and is essential because it supplies Vitamin C to your body. Since ulcers can occur because of vitamin deficiency, fortified orange juice can provide the required Vitamin C. Consuming orange juice daily can help your canker sore to heal. Note that the acidity in orange juice may irritate your ulcer for the moment.
- Coconut oil
This is another great way to reduce how much discomfort your experience due to mouth ulcer swelling. Coconut oil comes with anti-inflammatory compounds and you can apply it by dabbing cotton balls in the oil and applying it directly to the sores. This should be done every couple of hours and before bedtime.
Toothpaste also comes with antimicrobial properties that make it one of the effective home remedies for canker sores. It also creates a cooling effect that can relieve the burning sensation that you experience and provide comfort. You can also use aloe vera gel if your toothpaste stings. After applying toothpaste to the canker sore, allow it to stay on for a couple of minutes before you rinse off. Continue to do this for as long as is required.
This is another common canker sore cure. Garlic is effective in fighting ulcers. You can crush some garlic cloves and apply them to your mouth ulcer for a couple of minutes. Do this gently and rinse your mouth after half an hour. Continue to do this until the canker sores disappear.
What’s the outlook?
Mouth ulcers will disappear on their own and you will no longer feel the pain after some days. Some medications can help you manage symptoms and provide canker sore relief. You don’t really need these medications but you can try out the home remedies discussed above. Do not hesitate to consult your doctor if your canker sores persist.
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.