The cause of mouth ulcers and their usual treatments

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General Dental Care
BDSc (Hons) (Melb)

mouth ulcer is the breakdown of the delicate tissue that lines the mouth. It can take the form of swelling, tenderness or irritation from spicy or salty foods. The sufferer usually experiences moderate to extreme discomfort when eating and speaking.

iStock_000011845263XSmallCommon causes of mouth ulcers include:

  • Trauma – rubbing against a sharp tooth, biting one’s cheek, or burns from hot food (e.g. melted cheese or hot soup)
  • Psychological stress
  • Nutritional deficiencies – such as lack of Vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid and iron
  • Gastrointestinal tract diseases – e.g. Celiac disease, Crohn’s
  • Impaired immunity
  • Recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS or Canker sores) – the cause of which is not completely understood but is characterised by regular ulcers and affects one-fifth of the population.

Once an ulcer forms, it is very hard to treat. However, the following mouth ulcer treatments and mouth ulcer remedies can alleviate symptoms.

  • Treat the cause of trauma by having your dentist polish up any sharp tooth or rough denture.
  • Take L-Lysine tablets as directed, to promote healing of the ulcer.
  • Use (as directed) a mouthwash such as Bonjela or Difflam purchased from your local pharmacy.
  • Use a salt or sodium bicarbonate mouthwash prepared by dissolving one teaspoon of salt or sodium bicarbonate in a glass of water.

Importantly, you are strongly advised to see your dentist or doctor to investigate any mouth ulcer that:

  • is very large
  • takes longer than 2 to 3 weeks to heal
  • causes extreme, intolerable pain
  • is associated with high fever and a general feeling of ill health
  • frequently recurs.

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