Mouth ulcers are small lesions that develop when part of the lining of the mouth is lost. They are incredibly common and can occur almost anywhere, including the lips, cheek, tongue, gums or on the roof of the mouth. Unfortunately, they are often associated with pain and swelling, making daily activities such as eating and tooth brushing more difficult. So what causes these ulcers and how can we treat them?
Causes of ulcers
- Trauma: cheek/tongue biting, injury from a toothbrush, burn, rubbing against dentures or sharp objects
- Certain medications
- Infections: viral, bacterial, fungal
- Certain diseases: Autoimmune, Crohn’s, Coeliac
- Nutritional deficiencies: vitamin, iron
- Skin rashes in the mouth
Fortunately, despite their short-term complications, most ulcers are ultimately harmless and resolve on their own within 14 days.
Tips for symptoms management:
- Avoid spicy and sour foods which can irritate the ulcer
- Stay hydrated
- Regular warm salt-water rinses
- Alcohol-free mouthwash (preferably containing chlorhexidine gluconate) twice daily
- Analgesic or steroid-containing gels such as SM33 gel, Kenalog
- Maintain a good oral hygiene routine
When to seek help
If the ulcers are greatly interfering with normal daily functioning or are still there after 2 weeks, it may be wise to see your dentist, who can refer you for further testing to determine whether there is another underlying cause other than the typical trauma-induced ulcer.