Mouth ulcers can be a pain. One mouth ulcer can make eating an ordeal and speaking tough. And in some of us,they come in groups, all over the mouth and lips. There are times you wish you could just pluck them off and throw them away. It’s also when you have ulcers in the mouth that you want to eat everything in visible range and say so many things to people around you, neither of which is easy. At painful times like this, we wish we could understand the cause behind our ulcers, wish we could get immediate relief and wish they would not recur.Mouth ulcers, or canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers are small sores in the mouth, usually on the tongue, the inside of lips and the inner lining of cheeks. Sores outside the mouth, on and around the lips are called cold sores and are caused by the Herpes virus. Apthouos ulcers, on the other hand, could occur for numerous reasons.
What causes mouth ulcers?
There is no single reason to explain the open sores inside your mouth. We take a look at the various things that can cause aphthous ulcers.
The most common cause of ulcers is trauma. Accidentally biting your tongue, wounds caused by sharp object (such as pens and other objects that some of us like to chew) and burning your tongue with excessively hot food or drinks all lead to sores inside the mouth. Sharp molar teeth with jagged edges, sometimes left that way after dental procedures also rub against the lateral side of the tongue and cause wounds there. A second of injury often leaves one with painful ulcers lasting up to a week or more.
Mouth ulcers can also be caused by dietary habits and deficiency of certain vitamins, most commonly vitamin B12 and Vitamin C. Deficiency of minerals such as zinc could also cause mouth ulcers. People who eat hot, spicy food and do not drink adequate water are also seen to develop frequent canker sores.
Some of us get recurrent mouth ulcers for no particular reason. While canker sores are not transmitted through food or saliva, it has been noticed that the problem can be a hereditary one, meaning if one our parents develop frequent mouth ulcers, chances are high that we might do the same. People with conditions affecting the immune system, such as HIV, also develop frequent aphthous ulcers.
Smoking cessation is also marked by frequent ulcers which may recur weeks or months after quitting. For someone who has just given up on smoking, this can be a rather annoying experience.
Stress seems to cause mouth ulcers, too. And though many refute or debate this, some amount of research suggests that one often tends to develop sores in the mouth at times of high stress when one is feeling run down. Some women also tend to develop ulcers before their menstrual periods, suggesting that the condition could have hormonal causes. Certain compounds such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate that are present in toothpaste also seem to cause mouth ulcers.
As such, it is often hard to point to an exact cause of a single mouth ulcer.
Types of mouth ulcers
Yes, there are varieties to those painful sores, too. Minor aphthous ulcers are the most common ones that occur on the tongue, cheeks, gums or inner lips and usually go away in around a week’s time without leaving behind any scars. Major aphthous ulcers are larger ulcers, usually around 10mm, and take a longer time to heal. They can last for months altogether and can leave behind scars. Herpetiform ulcers are a conglomeration of multiple ulcers at a single spot on the tongue and usually heal in around a month.
Managing the sting
Irrespective of what their size it, all aphthous ulcers have one thing in common. They hurt. While we tolerate them the rest of the time, they are a nag while eating. The pain one has to withstand can entirely kill the desire to eat. Brushing becomes another difficult task. The ulcers, of course, will take their own sweet time to heal but there are certain things we can do to minimize the pain.
Over the counter medication is easy to find and mostly includes pastes, gels and liquids that coat the ulcers and numb the pain. Keeping ice in the mouth for sometime before eating can also numb the ulcer and minimize the sting. Non-alcoholic and anti-bacterial mouthwash help maintain oral hygiene and prevent secondary infection.
Avoid eating food that is spicy, hot, sour or excessively salty. They sting all the more, even if you have applied anesthetics.
Use a toothpaste that does not contain SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulfate). SLS is a foaming agent that is found in most toothpastes. However, there are a few herbal toothpaste brands in India that are SLS-free or have a lesser percentage of the chemical. Many tooth powders, too are SLS-free. Run through the list of ingredients before picking up a brand.
Avoid eating food that can be painful on open wounds. Potato chips, nuts, wafers etc. are harder on your ulcers. Save them for days when your mouth is healthy and ulcer-free.
If your ulcers are being caused by regualr injuries by sharp teeth edges, dentures or braces, visit and dentist and try to resolve the problem.
Prevention, needless to say, is better than cure. If you are able to point to a particular reason for your ulcers, try avoid it to the maximum. Among people who have recurring ulcers, regular intake of vitamin supplements, such as vitamin B12 tablets, can reduce occurrence of mouth ulcers.
Very importantly, reduce stress. Feeling low and run down and troubling our brains a little too much will only result in painful tongues. Many of us by now are used to getting mouth ulcers frequently and we should strive to do whatever little we can do to reduce their frequency.
Note: This is just for the information of the readers, for more details and guidance get it touch with a physician.