Mouth sores commonly affect people of all age groups at some point in their lives.
They are also known as canker sores or Apthous ulcers.
They are small crater like painful lesions that may develop on any of the soft tissues of your mouth, including your lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, and floor and roof of your mouth.
Majority of them are usually harmless and heal on their own in a couple of weeks even without any treatment.
They often make eating, drinking talking very uncomfortable due to pain.
CAUSES: There are no definite or a fixed causes behind each episode of mouth ulcers. However below are certain factors and triggers that are commonly associated with them-
- Injury to oral tissues due to vigorous brushing, eating very hard/crunchy foods, braces, accidental bite or sport mishaps.
- Acidic foods like strawberries, citrus, and pineapples, and other trigger foods like chocolate and coffee may cause ulcers to happen or worsen current ulcers.
- Lack of essential vitamins, especially Vitamin B12, zinc, folate, and iron
- Hormonal changes during menstruation
- Emotional stress or lack of sleep
- Use of certain things that irritate the oral tissues such as tobacco ,both chewing and smoking, toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain sodium lauryl sulphate
- Recurrent or long lasting mouth ulcers also can be a sign of conditions that are more serious and require medical treatment, such as inflammatory bowel disease, as anemia, crohn’s disease, celiac disease, diabetes mellitus, Behcet’s disease and oral cancers.
- Certain medications may also cause oral sores/ulcers, therefore if you notice ulcers after starting a medicine recently, it is advisable to talk your doctor about it.
Treatment of mouth ulcers–
Treatment is usually not necessary for minor canker sores, which tend to clear on their own in a week or two. But large, persistent, unusually painful or recurrent sores often need medical care. The treatment includes avoidance of irritating foods and substances, treatment of the cause, and topical treatments.
- Avoidance of irritating substances-
- Avoid hot, spicy, salty, citrus-containing foods, and foods with high sugar content.
- Avoiding irritation from gum chewing
- Avoiding chewing tobacco/ pan masala and smoking
- Involves treatment of the cause-
- Deficiency of vitamins being a very common cause, taking nutritional supplements like folic acid, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and zinc can help but must be discussed with doctor before taking.
- For recurrent or long lasting oral ulcers, it is best to get a detailed evaluation from a doctor.
- Topical treatments and home remedies-
- Gargle with salt water
- using over-the-counter benzocaine (topical anaesthetic) products
- Damp tea bags are soothing and provide relief form the pain and can be placed on the sores.
- Rinsing your mouth with a salt water or baking soda rinse which can be made by Mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda per ½ cup water.
Tips to prevent oral ulcers- There are no absolute measures by which canker sores can be prevented, the following measures would help
- It is best to keep a watch on your diet and avoid very hot foods and drinks
- Chew slowly to avoid accidental biting.
- Use a soft toothbrush and practice regular dental hygiene avoid vigorous brushing and it is important to avoid toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
- See your dentist if any dental hardware or teeth may be irritating your mouth
- If your canker sores seem to be related to stress, learn and use stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation
- Eat a balanced diet take a daily multivitamin eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Drink plenty of water
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco
- Avoid or limit alcohol consumption
- Shade your lips when in the sun, or use SPF 15 lip balm
It is a good idea to visit your doctor for a check-up and discussion if you have been getting oral ulcers too frequently or if they have been staying for long or if they seem to have appeared after you were started on a medication.
Pic Credits: Internet