The dreaded mouth ulcer: they’re a small but painful sore that most of us have to deal with from time to time. Although painful, they are completely harmless and will often disappear of their own accord. To learn more about what causes mouth ulcers how to get rid of mouth ulcers, and how you can help to prevent them from making a reappearance, keep reading!
What are Mouth Ulcers?
Mouth ulcers are small, non-contagious sores found in the mouth. They can be red, yellow, grey, or white and commonly develop inside the cheeks or at the base of the gums, often making eating and talking quite a painful experience.
Superdrug’s Medical Ambassador Dr Sara says, “Whilst mouth ulcers can be very uncomfortable, they are not often a sign of something more serious.”
What Causes Mouth Ulcers?
Unfortunately, a lot of things! The most common causes are:
– Biting the inside of your cheek (ouch!)
– Your braces, retainers or dentures rubbing against the skin in your mouth/gums
– A diet rich in acidic foods, including pineapple, grapefruit, and other citrus foods
– An underlying vitamin deficiency
– Tiredness, stress, and/or anxiety
– Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
– Damage caused by your toothbrush
– Hormonal changes e.g., when you’re pregnant or during your period
How Do I Get Rid of Mouth Ulcers?
Dr Sara says, “You can speed up the healing process and alleviate the pain through a number of self-help tips. This includes avoiding particularly spicy, hot and acidic foods and drinks, staying well hydrated and keeping good oral hygiene. You may also find that using mouthwashes, lozenges and topical painkillers can also help.”
Whilst they’re a nuisance, they don’t typically require treatment and will often heal within 1-2 weeks. However, you can take a few measures to ease the pain and decrease swelling.
– Brush your teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush
– Using an antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent infection of the ulcer
– Applying antiseptic gels and ointments to the affected area is also an effective mouth ulcer treatment
– Daily saltwater rinses
How Do I Prevent Mouth Ulcers?
– Cut down spicy and acidic foods if you’ve found them to be a trigger
– Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to minimise deficiencies
– Maintain good oral hygiene, brushing and flossing regularly
– Reducing stress and anxiety where possible if this is a cause of your mouth ulcers
– When to Speak to your Superdrug Pharmacist or GP
When to Speak to Your Superdrug Pharmacist or GP
Dr Sara says: “If you are getting recurrent ulcers, it is important to discuss this with your GP as there are a number of conditions and nutritional deficiencies that can predispose you to them.”
If your mouth ulcer lasts longer than three weeks or starts to get bigger than usual, it’s best to seek advice from a medical professional, such as your GP or Superdrug Pharmacist. They can advise on the next step you can take, as well as rule out the possibility of any underlying illnesses that could be causing it.