Mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores, are very painful small, shallow lesions that develop inside the mouth. They are typically round or oval with a white, yellow, or gray center and a red border.
Mouth ulcers are most common in women and people under forty-five. The size of a mouth ulcer can vary, but unusually bigger and deeper ulcers can take up to several weeks to heal, possibly leaving a scar.
The one good thing to know about mouth ulcers is that they are not contagious.
What exactly is the cause of a mouth ulcer?
The exact cause is unknown, but there are many factors that can contribute to the development of a mouth ulcer. The most common factor is injury such as biting the inside of your mouth.
Factors That Contribute to Mouth Ulcers
- Stress or lack of sleep. This is a major part of mouth ulcers that affect 20% of adults.
- Minor mouth injury. Anything that repeatedly rubs up against the mouth and gums may cause an ulcer, such as filling a cavity, rubbing against braces or dentures, accidentally biting your tongue or the inside of your cheek, and an injury from a toothbrush (slipping while brushing).
- Hormonal changes. You cannot always prevent mouth ulcers caused by puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, but you can relieve the pain by administering the necessary medication.
- Acidic foods. Citrusy foods such as lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, strawberries, chocolate, or even coffee are known to cause mouth ulcers. Identifying which foods are causing them can help you to avoid developing a mouth ulcer.
- Bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. A mouth ulcer can occasionally be caused by an infection known as herpes simplex.
- Vitamin and mineral nutrient deficiencies. Being deficient in certain essential vitamins and minerals can lead to developing a mouth ulcer.
- Specific medication. Sometimes the reaction to certain medications can cause a mouth ulcer.
- Gastrointestinal tract problems. A mouth ulcer can develop during a flare-up of gastrointestinal problems such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, which weaken the immune system, cause a vitamin and mineral deficiency, and cause dehydration.
How long does it take for a mouth ulcer to heal?
Mouth ulcers can affect people of all ages and are more of an inconvenience than a serious medical problem. They are one of the most common lesions that affect the mouth and are easy to spot. In many cases, a mouth ulcer can resolve itself in about 10 to 14 days.
If you happen to develop a burning and tender ulcer in your mouth that does not resolve itself within 14 days, you should seek treatment at the local family dental care office.
How to treat mouth ulcers?
In most cases, mouth ulcers will usually heal on their own. Plus, there are over-the-counter aids and home remedies available to ease symptoms. If the ulcer becomes too painful, your family dental care office may prescribe a topical medication to reduce discomfort and the risk of complications. Also, if a mouth ulcer case is severe, your healthcare provider might prescribe immunosuppressants to stop the immune system from damaging healthy cells and tissues.
Mouth Ulcer Home Remedies and Over-the-Counter Treatments
- Use an over-the-counter topical anesthetic such as Orajel or Anbesol.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Avoid foods that are spicy and hot.
- Rinse out your mouth with warm salt water a few times a day to help heal the ulcers.
- Practice daily proper oral health care to keep the mouth clean.
If a mouth ulcer continues to reoccur, it would be wise to schedule an appointment with a family dental care office. Or if the ulcer is interfering with your daily activities for at least two weeks, contact Gina Liggio Maestri DDS Family Dentistry in the Acadiana area.
Dr. Maestri can diagnose a mouth ulcer with just a visual examination and formulate a treatment plan. If Dr. Maestri suspects the condition of the ulcer might be viral or if there’s a vitamin and mineral deficiency, she may order blood tests for further evaluation, especially since mouth ulcers are known to be linked to serious health conditions.
Health Conditions Linked to Mouth Ulcers
- Celiac Disease
- HIV and AIDS
- Immune Disorders
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Behcet’s Disease
Proper dental care, a healthy diet, and regular dental visits can help to prevent the development of mouth ulcers. They appear under the tongue, inner cheeks or roof of the mouth, gums, or lips.
You might even notice a tingling or burning sensation one or two days before the sores surface. Even though mouth ulcers are not a danger to people, they are linked to other health conditions.
Even certain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, beta-blockers, and pain killers can cause mouth ulcers. If you or someone you love is dealing with painful mouth ulcers and are having problems eating or talking, contact Gina Liggio Maestri DDS Family Dentistry today.
Our dedicated, highly trained staff work to bring smiles on all our patient’s faces. We also provide a variety of services to care for the whole family’s dental needs.
Schedule an appointment with Gina Liggio Maestri, DDS Family Dentistry today. Maestri Family Dentistry is changing lives one smile at a time.