Mouth Ulcer- Symptoms, Causes and Tips to prevent

Mouth Ulcer- Symptoms, Causes And Tips To Prevent


A mouth ulcer is the loss or erosion of part of the delicate tissue lining the mouths inside (mucous membrane). Various causes also exist. The most common cause is damage, such as inadvertently biting your cheek inside. Other causes include aphthal ulceration, certain medicines, skin rashes in the mouth, viral, bacterial and fungal infections, chemicals, certain systemic medical conditions and, rarely, malignancy.

Mouth ulcers are in most cases harmless and cure themselves within 10 days without the need for any medication. Aphthous ulcers are the non-known cause is recurring ulcers. They affect approximately 20 to 30 per cent of the population.

See your dentist if you don’t clear up your mouth ulcers within a couple of days, or if you get them often.

Symptoms of Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcer symptoms depend on the cause but may include:

  • One or more painful sores on the skin that lining the mouth
  • Swollen skin around the sores
  • Problems with chewing or tooth brushing because of the tenderness
  • Salty, spicy or sour foods irritate the sores
  • Loss of appetite

Aphthal ulcers typically occur on the softer lining of the lips, cheeks, tongue sides, mouth floor, and back of the palate and tonsil area. Usually, these ulcers are no greater than 5 percent. You can grow more than one aphthous ulcer at a time and these ulcers are often persistent. 

When to see a doctor

People who get mouth ulcers frequently can find it hard to know when to see a doctor.

However, there are certain cases where a person should see a doctor at the earliest opportunity. Among those situations are:

  • Presence of unpainful ulcer in one or more mouth areas
  • unusual ulcers that appear in a new spot in the mouth
  • ulcers that are spreading
  • Ulcers lasting longer than 3 weeks

Others might want to seek treatment or medical attention for their ulcers if:

  • They are particularly painful or big
  • A fever appears
  • They develop after starting a new medication
  • Secondary bacterial infections


In many cases, the pain and discomfort from mouth ulcers will lessen in a few days and then disappear in about 2 weeks with no need for treatment.

A dentist can recommend a treatment for people with much more severe or frequent recurrence of mouth ulcers to reduce swelling and relieve pain.

In addition, a dentist may prescribe an antimicrobial mouthwash or an ointment for direct application to the infected patch. This can help to ease discomfort. Various mouth ulcer treatments are also available to purchase online.

Causes of mouth ulcers

A wide variety of factors can cause mouth ulcers including:

  • Unintended bite inside your cheek
  • A toothbrush injury (such as slipping during brushing)
  • Constant rubbing against misaligned or sharp teeth
  • Constant rubbing against dentures or braces
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Burns from eating hot food
  • Irritation from strong antiseptics, such as a mouthwash
  • Oral thrush infection
  • Viral infections such as herpes simplex (cold sore)
  • Reaction to certain medications
  • Skin rashes in the mouth (lichen planus for example)
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Underlying gastrointestinal disease such as Crohn’s disease
  • Oral cancer

Risk factor

It is important to get anything that’s causing concern checked out. This is particularly so if you are over 45 years of age and have a risk factor.

Risk factors for mouth cancer include:

  • Smoking or using products that contain tobacco
  • Drinking alcohol-smokers who are also heavy drinkers are far more at risk relative to the population  at large
  • Infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) – the virus that causes genital warts

It is important that mouth cancer is detected as early as possible. If mouth cancer is diagnosed early, then there are strong chances of complete recovery.

Regular dental check-ups are the best way to detect early signs.

Tips to prevent mouth ulcers

You should take steps to reduce the occurrence of mouth ulcers. It can be helpful to avoid food which irritates your mouth. This involves acidic fruits such as pineapple, grapefruit, oranges, or lemon, as well as nuts, chips, or spicy stuff.

Instead, use whole grains and nonacidic (alkaline) fruits and vegetables. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, and take a multivitamin daily.

Try to avoid talking while you’re chewing your food to reduce accidental bites. Reducing stress and maintaining good oral hygiene by using dental floss daily and brushing after meals also may help. Finally, get adequate sleep and rest. This not only will prevent mouth ulcers but a host of other illnesses as well.

Some people find avoiding soft bristle toothbrushes and mouthwashes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate also helps. Your dentist can give you wax to cover orthodontic or dental mouth devices with sharp edges.

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