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Definition

What is mouth ulcers?

Mouth ulcers — also known as canker sores — are normally small, red, painful lesions that develop in your mouth or at the base of your gums. Occasional mouth ulcers are usually harmless and clear up on their own. It just causes painful and difficult to eat, drink.

How common is mouth ulcers?

This health condition is extremely common. It commonly affects more females than males. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of mouth ulcers?

The common symptoms of mouth ulcers are small oval or round ulcers that heal within one to two weeks with no scarring. The size may vary depending on the type of mouth ulcers: minor, major or Herpetiform canker sores.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Unusually large canker sores;
  • Recurring sores, with new ones developing before old ones heal, or frequent outbreaks;
  • Persistent sores, lasting two weeks or more;
  • Sores that extend into the lips themselves (vermilion border);
  • Pain that you can’t control with self-care measures;
  • Extreme difficulty eating or drinking;
  • High fever along with canker sores.

Causes

What causes mouth ulcers?

The precise cause of canker sores remains unclear, though researchers suspect that a combination of factors contributes to outbreaks, even in the same person.

  • A minor injury to your mouth from dental work, overzealous brushing, sports mishaps or an accidental cheek bite.
  • Toothpaste and mouth rinse containing sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Food sensitivities, particularly to chocolate, coffee, strawberries, eggs, nuts, cheese, and spicy or acidic foods.
  • A diet lacking in vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron.
  • An allergic response to certain bacteria in your mouth.
  • Helicobacter pylori, the same bacteria that cause peptic ulcers.
  • Hormonal shifts during menstruation.
  • Emotional stress.
  • Health condition: HIV/AIDS, Behcet’s disease, Inflammatory bowel diseases, Celiac disease.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for mouth ulcers?

There are many risk factors for mouth ulcers, such as:

  • They occur more often in teens and young adults.
  • They happen more common in females.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is mouth ulcers diagnosed?

A visual exam is sufficient to diagnose mouth ulcers.  In some cases, you may have tests to check for other health problems, especially if your canker sores are severe and ongoing.

How is mouth ulcers treated?

The treatment will be recommended in the large, persistent or unusually painful sores.

  • Mouth rinses. A mouth rinse contains the steroid dexamethasone that can reduce pain and inflammation or lidocaine.
  • Over-the-counter and prescription products such as Benzocaine, Fluocinonide, Hydrogen peroxide may help relieve pain and speed healing if applied to individual sores as soon as they appear.
  • Nutritional supplements. Folate (folic acid), vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 or zinc will be required if you lack these vitamins.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage mouth ulcers?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with mouth ulcers:

  • Rinse your mouth.Use salt water or baking soda rinse (dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup warm water).
  • Dab a small amount of milk of magnesia on your canker sore a few times a day.
  • Avoid abrasive, acidic or spicy foods that can cause further irritation and pain.
  • Apply ice to your canker sores by allowing ice chips to slowly dissolve over the sores.
  • Brush your teeth gently,using a soft brush and foaming-agent-free toothpaste such as Biotene or Sensodyne ProNamel.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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