Treating Mouth Ulcers: A Short Guide

Mouth ulcers are a common and annoying problem. They are usually present as small and painful lesions that develop in your mouth or at the base of the gums. They usually last for about 1-2 weeks, and make it uncomfortable to eat, drink and talk. 

Mouth ulcers are most commonly seen in women and adolescents. Patients are also more likely to develop ulcers if they have a family history. To reduce the risk, it is recommended to take care of your gums and mouth with proper dental hygiene.  

Thankfully, mouth ulcers are not contagious and heal relatively quickly. However, if your ulcers persist beyond two weeks, it is best to consult a doctor. 

Despite their brief appearance, mouth ulcers can be very irritating. So, you would definitely want ways to make them go away as soon as possible. 

Read on to find a comprehensive guide on mouth ulcers and their treatment. 

What Are the Causes of Mouth Ulcers?

There is no definite known cause behind mouth ulcers. However, certain factors contribute to their development:

  • Injuries from brushing too hard, playing sports, or accidents
  • Infections originating from bacteria or fungi
  • Hormonal changes in the body
  • Allergic response to mouth bacteria
  • Emotional stress or lack of sleep
  • Braces, rough fillings, or dentures
  • Food allergies

Mouth ulcers can also result from vitamin deficiencies or weakened immune systems. Hence, some people are more at risk of mouth ulcers than others. 

Who is at a Higher Risk?

Although anyone can get mouth ulcers, pregnant women and teens are at higher risk. This may be due to the high rate of hormonal changes in the body during those stages. 

Women in their menstrual cycles also often complain about mouth ulcers. 

Many people who have undergone chemotherapy also tend to develop mouth ulcers. The ulcers may range from a few sores to severe inflammation with bleeding. Extreme ulceration may lead to something called “mucositis” which is inflammation of the soft tissues of the mouth. 

Severe mouth ulcers can be a sign of:

  • Celiac diseases
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Behcet’s disease
  • HIV/AIDs

To determine whether or not you need medical attention, you need to check the severity of the ulcer. 

Types of Ulcers

Depending on size, severity, and how long they persist, ulcers can be of three types:

Minor: These are small circular or oval lesions that heal within 1-2 weeks.

Major: These are larger and deeper than the minor ones. They have rough edges and can take over 6 weeks to heal completely. They can also result in permanent or long-term scarring. 

Herpetiform: These are pinpoint sized and occur in clusters of 10 to 100. They mainly occur in adults and heal within 1-2 weeks without scarring.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Mouth ulcers are usually minor and heal quickly. However, they can be concerning if:

  • They are unusually large
  • You are having severe problems while eating or drinking because of them
  • New ones appear before the old ones heal
  • You get a high fever or diarrhea each time an ulcer forms

If you seem to be suffering from any of the above, you should get a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. 

Medicinal Remedies

Mouth ulcers are generally painful and cause irritation in the mouth. Some over-the-counter medicines that may help you get some relief are:

  • Pain killers like ibuprofen
  • Antimicrobial mouthwash to wash out microbes that may be causing infections
  • Numbing mouth spray or gel to reduce pain

These medicines help you relieve the pain and irritation. If your ulcers get too painful or uncomfortable, you should consult a doctor for prescription medication. 

Your doctor will possibly recommend steroid creams or prescribed mouthwashes. In some cases, they may give you vitamin supplements. 

Home Remedies

Using simple home remedies and managing your health will facilitate faster healing of your mouth ulcers. Some natural methods that can help you are:

  • Gargling with warm salt water to kill bacteria
  • Applying ice or using cold water on the ulcer to make it numb
  • Drinking cool chamomile tea
  • Consuming milk of magnesia
  • Eating soft and bland foods to keep strong spices away from the ulcer
  • Applying a thin paste of baking soda and water to the ulcer

In general, you want to drink cold fluids rather than hot ones. Also, try consuming foods rich in vitamins and iron.

In a Nutshell

Mouth ulcers are pretty common, and generally, you do not need to worry about them. Good dental hygiene can reduce as well as prevent them. 

Some ways to prevent mouth ulcers are:

  • Getting enough rest and sleep
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly
  • Avoiding hard bristle toothbrushes

Usually, mouth ulcers heal quickly and do not leave any scars. However, if the ulcer is large or persists for a long while, consult your dentist. Call Pure Dental Arts today for more info!