What is a mouth ulcer?
Mouth ulcers are painful when they occur in the mouth and gums. They are technically called canker sores.
Though mouth ulcer is harmless, it may cause extreme discomfort to the mouth and make it difficult for some people to eat, drink, and brush their teeth. Mouth ulcers range in size, and the exact symptoms of the mouth ulcer will depend on what type of ulcer a person has.
What Causes Mouth Ulcers?
The fact about what causes ulcers varies from person-to-person’s oral health. Still, there are very common symptoms and a sign that causes aggravate mouth ulcers, and they are as follow:
- Quitting smoking
- Citrus fruits and other foods high in acidity or spice
- Biting the tongue or inside of the cheek
- Braces, poor-fitting dentures, and other apparatus that may rub against the mouth and gums
- A deficient filling
- Stress or anxiety
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause
- Medications including beta-blockers and pain killers
- Genetic factors
Apart from these symptoms, in some people’s mouth ulcers develop due to different medical conditions or a nutritional deficiency.
Conditions such as celiac or Crohn’s disease, vitamin B12 or iron deficiency, or a weakened immune system may all trigger ulcers to form.
Are mouth ulcers cancerous?
Mouth cancer and mouth ulcers have a lot of differences in their symptoms. However, as mentioned earlier, new or existing ulcers require checking.
There are some fundamental differences between mouth ulcers and what might be cancer:
- Mouth ulcers are often painful whereas mouth cancer is not.
- Mouth ulcers will clear up in about 2 weeks, whereas mouth cancer will not go away easily and will often spread.
- Mouth cancer patches may be rough, hard, and not easy to scrape off.
- Mouth cancer is often a mix of red and white areas or large white areas that appear on the tongue, the back of the mouth, the gums, or on the cheeks.
- Mouth cancer is often linked to heavy drinking or tobacco use.
Mouth ulcer Treatment
Ulcers last for a few days or weeks. But in some cases, it may not even heal. if the ulcer does not vanish away within two weeks you may require dental treatment by the dentist and if not treated, it may cause more discomfort.
For people with much more painful or frequent occurring of mouth ulcers, the dentists will prescribe a solution or medication to reduce swelling and lessen the pain and discomfort.
A dentist will prescribe medication like an antimicrobial mouthwash or an ointment to be applied directly to the infected patch. This can help to ease discomfort.
Types of mouth ulcers
Usually, an ulcer appears on the cheeks or below the gum line. It lasts for a week. Ulcers are mostly harmless and clear up with no medical intervention.
There are three main types of mouth ulcers. These include:
- Herpetiform ulceration (HU)
Herpetiform ulcers are a subtype of aphthous ulcers and get their name because they resemble the sores associated with herpes. Unlike herpes, HU is not contagious. HU ulcers recur very quickly, and it may appear that the condition never gets better.
- Minor ulcers
This type can range in size from about 2 millimeters (mm) up to 8 mm across. These ulcers typically take up to 2 weeks to get better and will cause minor pain.
- Major ulcers
Bigger than minor ulcers, major ulcers are often irregular in shape, maybe raised, and penetrate deeper into the tissue than minor ulcers. They can take several weeks to go away and are likely to leave scar tissue when they clear.
How to get rid of mouth ulcers?
Mouth ulcers can be cured naturally and typically recur in the mouth throughout a person’s life.
Though the appearance of an ulcer may be natural, there are some things people can do to lessen the severity of or reduce the number of times they suffer from an outbreak.
Some prevention methods include:
- Talking to a dentist about changing medications that are known to cause ulcers
- Avoiding foods that can either trigger or worsen symptoms
- Keeping the mouth clean with daily brushing and flossing
- Avoiding triggers known to cause outbreaks in the past
- Applying ice to canker sores
- Using mouth rinse that contains a steroid to reduce pain and swelling
- Using topical pastes
- Using oral steroids
- Placing damp tea bags on your mouth ulcer
- Cauterizing or burn to seal the tissue with a chemical cauterizer like silver nitrate
- Taking nutritional supplements like folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and zinc
- Trying natural remedies such as chamomile tea, echinacea, myrrh, and licorice
Thankfully, mouth ulcers tend to clear up naturally, and the pain associated with an ulcer typically disappears within a couple of days or weeks.
To keep the pain and swelling in control, there are some medications in the form of ointments and solutions. But these are often not necessary for a person to make a full recovery.
To prevent future outbreaks, people should try to reduce stress and anxiety as much as possible and follow a proper dental routine.