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Mouth Ulcers

Not too many of us like pain in our bodies so when pain occurs, the first thought is how to get rid of it or at least deaden it . But what is our body trying to tell us?

Most commonly caused by biting inside your check (a mechanical injury), mouth ulcers generally resolve by themselves in a few days to a week. The delicate lining tissue in the mouth is temporarily damaged but repairs itself quickly. (This tissue is a mucous membrane – mucous is secreted which is important for chewing our food, and mouth health).

A mouth ulcer generally presents as a round sore/s inside the mouth. It’s tender and may have swelling around it which can create pain when eating or brushing teeth depending how large and deep it is. Salty and spicy foods will irritate it.

Other “mechanical injuries” include misaligned or sharp teeth cutting the cheek lining and constant rubbing against braces, dentures or studs. Other less common causes include certain medications and infectious diseases such as thrush or herpes, burns from hot foods and irritation from strong antiseptics (ie some mouthwashes). Infrequent but serious causes include autoimmune disease, syphilis, TB, AIDS, diabetes and IBS; also, cancer of the lip … if a mouth ulcer doesn’t clear up in a few days, it’s prudent to get it checked by a professional; your body mighty be telling you something.

The medical name for a mouth ulcer with an unknown cause is an aphthous ulcer, or a canker sore. The ulcer/s may appear on the tongue, gum as well as the mouth lining. They are off-white little protrusions that tend to occur during emotional stress or menstruation. They recur with no known cause and about 20% of people experience them. They disappear themselves. If a pattern is detected, a trigger may be suspected and therefore possibly avoided.

In any event, avoiding spicy or sour foods and citrus fruits will reduce unnecessary discomfort. And rinsing the mouth with a gently mouth rinse can be soothing.

It’s important that bacterial infection doesn’t complicate a mouth ulcer which would otherwise disappear in a few days … regular rising with warm salty water is a time honoured remedy. A medicated mouthwash can be used providing it doesn’t irritate the broken skin. Large, painful ulcers many need pharmaceutical help in the form of paracetamol, antiseptic gel and anti-inflammatories. Anti-fungal medication may be prescribed for oral thrush. Anti-viral medication may be prescribed for ulcers caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Whilst most people’s “mouth ulcer experience” involves a few days or mild pain/discomfort from a small sore usually caused by accidentally biting the inside of the cheek, a major ulcer (larger than 8mm) penetrates deep into the tissue, will be extremely painful, will often need professional help, will take several weeks to mend and will likely leave scar tissue in its wake.

Poor oral hygiene can predispose a person to mouth ulcers … these ulcers can therefore be prevented.

Smoking can aggravate mouth ulcers.

People who suffer for Crohn’s disease (a type of inflammatory bowel disease) or who are celiac may benefit from B12, as an iron deficiency or weakened immune system may trigger mouth ulcers to add to their problems.

So whilst most instances of mouth ulcers are an occasional mild nuisance that resolve quickly themselves, some can be large and painful needing professional assistance to heal. Much more rare is the instance of a severe, long standing ulcer which is associated with a serious health issue which naturally will need professional assistance. So don’t delay seeking help when needed. You will probably know the difference between a small ulcer that will be gone in a week and one that is different … be aware of your body and be proactive.

Because minor ulcers are a break in the delicate mucosal tissue of the mouth, sea buckthorn oil can be a natural remedy to aid healing and tissue regeneration.

Good Luck!

We are not healthcare or medical professionals and the information contained here is not to be taken as medical advice. It is recommended that you consult you healthcare professional prior to taking any supplements and always read the label, use only as directed, and if symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.