PAINFUL SORES IN THE LINING OF THE MOUTH, KNOWN AS MOUTH ULCERS OR APHTHOUS ULCERS, CAN BE EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL.
What is Mouth Ulcer or What are Mouth Ulcers?
Mouth ulcers are extremely common, especially in young people and during times of stress or illness. They are slightly more common in girls and women and sometimes run in families, suggesting that a genetic factor may be involved.
Mouth ulcers appear as shallow, grey-white pits with a red border and may occur singly or in clusters anywhere in the mouth. They can cause pain, often excruciating for the first few days and particularly when you are chewing spicy, hot or acidic food.
If they are very painful, mouth ulcers may deter eating and chewing, which in a child can look like loss of appetite. They may recur several times a year but they usually disappear with or without treatment within two weeks.
Causes of Mouth Ulcers
- The cause of mouth ulcers is not known, but they tend to occur in people who are run down or ill.
- They appear before menstruation in women.
- Mouth ulcers are often stress-related.
- Injuries to the lining of the mouth caused by ill-fitting dentures, a roughened tooth or by careless tooth brushing can also result in mouth ulcers.
- Rarely, recurrent mouth ulcers may be due to anaemia, a deficiency of either vitamin B-j2 or folic acid, an intestinal disorder such as Crohn’s disease or coeliac disease, or Behget syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder.
- Ulcers may also occur as a result of specific infections, such as herpes simplex infections.
- Very rarely, an ulcer that enlarges slowly and does not heal may be mouth cancer.
Treatment of Mouth Ulcers
Mouth ulcers usually heal without treatment. Over-the-counter preparations containing a corticosteroid to reduce the inflammation combined with a local anaesthetic are available in lozenge, gel and paste form, which sticks to most surfaces. If you have an ulcer that does not heal within three weeks, you should consult a doctor.