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Mouth Ulcers - A Full Guide

What are mouth Ulcers and how can they be treated?


Mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores, are small, painful lesions that can develop in the mouth or at the base of the gums. Though these lesions are not contagious and usually go away within a week or two, they can often make eating, drinking, and talking uncomfortable. However, if you get a canker sore that is very large or painful or does not heal for a while, it is important to seek medical advice.


What can trigger or cause mouth ulcers?


There is no known or definite cause behind how mouth ulcers are caused. However, certain factors and triggers have been identified which include:   


-Food sensitivities to acidic foods like strawberries or citrus or chocolate and coffee

-Allergic reactions to bacteria in the mouth

-Minor injuries in the mouth as a result of dental work, hard brushing, or accidental bite

-Some toothpastes or mouthwashes containing sodium lauryl sulphate

-Lack of essential vitamins, especially zinc, folate, and iron

-Hormonal changes during menstruation

-Emotional stress or lack of sleep

-Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections in the body


Occasionally, mouth ulcers can also be a sign of a more serious condition which requires medical treatment. These may include:


-Inflammatory bowel disease

-Diabetes mellitus

-Behcet’s disease (Condition causing inflammation)

-Celiac disease (The bodies inability to tolerate gluten)

-Malfunctioning immune system (Causing the body to attack heathy cells in the mouth instead of virus and bacteria cells)


What symptoms are associated with mouth ulcers?


There are three main types of canker sores. These are minor, major and herpetiform:

Minor canker sores – Small oval or round ulcers that tend to heal within one or two weeks, leaving no scarring.

Major canker sores – Larger, deeper ulcers with irregular edges, often taking up to six weeks to heal, resulting in long-term scarring.

Herpetiform canker sores – Pinpoint in size, occurring in large clusters with irregular edges , often affecting adults and healing within one or two weeks without scarring.


Some symptoms of mouth ulcers should not be ignored, and a doctor should be seen if any of these are developed or experienced. These include:

-Unusually large ulcer

-Ulcers extending to the lips

-Ulcers persisting for more than 3 weeks

-Ulcers which are painless

-New Ulcers before old ones heal

-High fever or diarrhoea




How to prevent mouth ulcers?

Some steps can be taken to help reduce the occurrence of mouth ulcers. These include:

-Avoid foods that can irritate the mouth, such as acidic fruits like oranges, lemons, or anything spicy

-Choose whole grains and alkaline fruits and vegetables

-Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with multivitamins

-Avoid talking whilst eating, to reduce accidental bites

-Reduce stress and anxiety by getting adequate sleep and rest

-Maintain a good oral hygiene by performing daily interdental cleaning


How to treat mouth ulcers?

Most mouth ulcers do not require treatment and will often go away on their own. However, if you are someone who gets mouth ulcers often and are prone to pain, some treatments can help to decrease both the pain and the healing time. Some treatments include:


-Using a saltwater and baking soda rinse

-Applying Ice to the ulcer

-Using a mouth rinse which contains a steroid to reduce pain and swelling

-Placing a damp tea bag on the ulcer

-Using over the counter benzocaine products

-Taking nutritional supplements like folic acid, vitamin B-6/12 and zinc


Some of our best treatments for mouth ulcers can be found here:




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