What are mouth ulcers?

Mouth Ulcers
The causes of mouth ulcers can be a traumatic, environmental, systemic disease, or medication.

An ulcer usually forms as a break in the skin or mucous membrane with loss of surface tissue.

Mouth ulcers are also called canker sores, aphthous ulcers, and are a form of mouth sores. They are small, round ulcers that may be red, yellow, or gray. They occur inlining of the oral cavity (mucous membrane), usually on the inner surface of the lips and cheeks.

What are the types of mouth ulcers?

  • Minor mouth ulcers: These are the most common type of mouth ulcer and typically occur three or four times a year. They occur more commonly in the age-group of 10 to 20 years. They are less than 1 centimeter in diameter and heal within a week with no scarring.
  • Major mouth ulcers: These are less common. The ulcers are bigger and last more than weeks. They tend to heal with scarring.
  • Herpetiform mouth ulcers: These are rare and appear as clusters of tiny ulcers. They usually heal in about a week.

What are the causes of mouth ulcers?

The causes of mouth ulcers can be traumatic, environmental, systemic disease, or medication. Quite often, mouth ulcers are triggered by an underlying medical condition. Sometimes, mouth ulcers may be the only sign of a systemic disease.

Some common causes of mouth ulcers are:

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Mouth Problems: TMJ, Canker Sores, Painful Gums and More See Slideshow

How are mouth ulcers diagnosed?

The diagnosis is mainly based on clinical examination by the doctor. With frequent or severe mouth ulcers, the patient may be advised to undergo laboratory and radiological tests to diagnose underlying conditions.

What are the signs and symptoms of mouth ulcers?

How are mouth ulcers treated?

  • Mouthwashes: Your doctor may prescribe medicated mouthwashes that have a steroid or painkiller.
  • Topical medication: Medicated ointments containing antiviral medicine, steroids, or local anesthesia can be applied over the ulcer to numb the area.
  • Oral medications: Oral tablets and syrups may be prescribed to promote healing and reduce pain.
  • Nutritional supplementsThese might be prescribed if a nutritional deficiency is suspected or to help the ulcers heal faster.
  • Cautery: Dental lasers or cauterization (medically burning) of the ulcer with chemicals provide instant relief.
  • Diseases: Treatment of underlying systemic disease.
  • Home remedies: Most often, mouth ulcers may heal in just a few days with simple home remedies such as:
    • Saltwater gargling or gargling with baking soda.
    • Applying milk of magnesia over the ulcer.
    • Applying ice over the ulcers.
    • Placing a tea bag over the ulcers.
  • Diet and lifestyle modification:

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Medically Reviewed on 6/18/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

Management of Aphthous Ulcers

The Treatment of Chronic Recurrent Oral Aphthous Ulcers
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