There is nothing more discomforting than the pricky, painful sensation of a mouth ulcer. It is a commonly occurring disorder and affects people irrespective of their age or gender. Its widespread presence can be attributed to the fact that they have numerous causative factors. The earlier they are treated, the lesser discomfort they will cause. There are several oral medicines, ointments and home remedies for mouth ulcers.

What Are Mouth Ulcers?

Mouth ulcers are eruptions of varied sizes affecting the tongue, gums or inside of the lips. Direct touch and pressure over the mouth ulcer will most likely aggravate the pain associated with them.

They may also be referred to as oral ulcers, canker sores (not to be confused with cancer), aphthous ulcers, orals sores, mouth sores or stomatitis. While the exact causative factor of mouth ulcers is still unknown, there are several factors which trigger their development. Find out more about what causes mouth ulcer and how to treat it effectively.

7 Common Causes Of Mouth Ulcer

1. Direct Trauma

Injury to the oral mucosa may occur due to the edge of a jagged tooth, accidental injury to the face or while brushing teeth. Resultant irritation of the mucosa may cause mouth ulcers.

2. Long Term Use Of Dental Braces

Dental braces are intended to straighten the crooked alignment of teeth. The constant friction of the braces on gums may lead to irritation and eventually the formation of mouth ulcers.

3. Infection

Infection occurring due to fungus, virus, bacteria or yeast could cause oral ulcer. It has been noticed that allergic response to bacterial infection may also trigger formation of mouth ulcers.

4. Poor Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth twice daily, using a tongue cleaner and dental floss on a regular basis are essential for good hygiene of the oral cavity. Failure to maintain good hygiene can lead to infection which will cause mouth sores.

5. Dietary Conditions

Dietary deficiency of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin C are likely to trigger development and non-healing of mouth ulcers. Regular intake of spicy food is also known to cause mouth ulcers.

6. Rare Causes

In rare cases, a recurrent oral ulcer may be an indication of underlying cancer of the tongue, gums or other parts of the oral cavity, uncontrolled diabetes, HIV infection.

7. Digestion Issues

Disorders of the stomach or intestines are known to cause mouth ulcers. Acid from the stomach may regurgitate in the mouth leading to ulcer formation. Mouth ulcers may occur in people suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). 

Conditions other than these may also trigger ulcer formation in the oral cavity. Unlike certain silent diseases, symptoms of mouth ulcer develop almost as soon as the ulcer erupts. 

3 Types Of Mouth Ulcers

The development and progress of symptoms associated with mouth ulcers depend largely on the type of ulcer and its trigger factor. While the trigger factors have been discussed earlier, it is time to get acquainted with the types of mouth ulcers.

1. Minor Ulcers

True to their name, minor ulcers are small in size with a diameter of about 2-8 mm. They cause relatively lesser pain and discomfort than other types of mouth ulcers. They take around 2 weeks to heal completely and seldom cause any complications. 

2. Major Ulcers

Major ulcers are larger in size than minor ulcers and may erupt in a haphazard manner. Mouth ulcer on the tongue is most often a major ulcer than other types of ulcers. They are likely to grow deeper into the oral mucosa in comparison to minor ulcers. Major ulcers take a longer time to heal than minor ulcers. It may even take a month or more. These ulcers may leave remnant scars after they heal completely. 

3. Herpetiform Ulcers 

Herpetiform ulcers are known by this name due to the resemblance these ulcers bear resemblance to Herpes eruptions. However, unlike Herpes these ulcers are not contagious. A herpetiform ulcer is known to be a recurring condition since patients never seem to find lon- lasting relief.

It has been repeatedly mentioned that mouth sores cause immense discomfort and pain. Are these the only symptoms of mouth ulcers? What other indications point towards the diagnosis of mouth ulcers? Read the next section to know more.

3 Signs & Symptoms Of Mouth Ulcers

1. Pain

Mouth ulcers cause pain which will aggravate if the ulcers are touched. The pain which feels like a prick of the thorn is likely to increase while chewing food or talking. Mouth ulcer on the tongue may be more painful than those present on the gums or inside of the cheeks.

2. Burning Sensation

An uncomfortable burning sensation around the mouth ulcer is often reported by patients. The exact cause of this sensation is unknown.

3. Characteristic Appearance

Mouth ulcers bear a characteristic appearance with white or red colour and rounded or jagged edges that may be darkened. Ulcers may erupt in varied sizes and in rare cases may be associated with bleeding.

Symptoms are important for an accurate diagnosis of any health condition. Symptoms of mouth sores help to determine the best mode of treatment. It is always best to see a doctor at the earliest for mouth ulcer treatment. Along with mainstream medical treatment, you may even try home remedies for mouth ulcers.

6 Home Remedies For Mouth Ulcers

If you have grown up in a middle-class Indian household, your grandmother was probably the first one to provide you medical care before any doctor. Almost all Indian grannies have their own ‘dadi maa ka batua’ , their own first aid kit filled with locally resourced medicines often of herbal origin. Women of the olden era often churned out brilliant home remedies for various diseases which always worked in the most effective manner. Your grandmother will whip out a wonder product to treat your mouth ulcer once she deciphers what causes the mouth ulcer. Here are some of the most used home remedies for mouth ulcers with details of their use.

1. Salt Water Rinsing

Salt has anti-inflammatory properties which soothe the pain and swelling of the sore. This is the easiest home remedy one can use for mouth sores.

How To Do It:

  1. Mix one teaspoon of salt in a cup of plain or lukewarm water. 
  2. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with this mixture till all the water is used. 
  3. Repeat this at least thrice a day till the sore starts showing signs of improvement.

2. Alum Powder

Alum is a white crystal or powder used for purification of water. Alum has astringent properties which will help the sore to shrink and get dried.

How To Do It:

  1. Mix alum powder with water to make a paste. 
  2. Apply this paste to the mouth sores 2-3 times a day till the size of the sore reduces. 

3. Garlic

Garlic is an Indian staple found in almost every kitchen. Do not forget to rinse your mouth later to get rid of the garlic odour.

How To Do It:

  1. Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the inside of the clove on the oral sore.
  2. Anti-microbial properties of garlic will help get rid of any infection which may have caused the sore.

4. Ghee

If you walk into any Indian household and check the kitchen, you will definitely find ghee (clarified butter). It works wonders for treating mouth ulcer on the tongue.

How To Do It:

  1. Apply ghee directly on the entire area affected with oral ulcers.
  2. Ghee will form a protective layer over the sore preventing further irritation and inflammation. 

5. Cabbage Juice

A lesser-known remedy for mouth ulcer treatment at home is cabbage juice. Cabbage has an anti-inflammatory effect on the mouth sore which helps to reduce its size.

How To Do It:

  1. Prepare a puree with boiled cabbage.
  2. Consume it 3-4 times daily till the mouth ulcer gets better. 

6. Tea Bag Compress

Tea is another kitchen staple without which most Indians cannot imagine the start of their day. Teabags are also handy when it comes to dealing with a really bad case of mouth ulcers. Tea has pain relief and antacid properties. The alkaline nature of tea will neutralise any effect of stomach acid that regurgitates into the mouth and irritates the sores further.

How To Do It:

  1. Soak a tea bag in plain water.
  2. Apply it over the sore for about 5 minutes. 
  3. This can be repeated as much as thrice daily.

These amazing hacks act as first aid treatment for your mouth ulcer before you can visit the doctor. Many doctors will advise you to continue with home remedies along with mainstream medical treatment. 

5 Tips To Avoid Mouth Sores

Despite easy medical treatment and abundant home remedies being available for mouth ulcers, it is best to avoid this painful condition as much as possible. How to do so? Read to know more.

  1. Maintaining oral hygiene will prevent mouth infections, thereby terminating one cause of mouth ulcers.
  2. Keeping the intake of spicy food in check is an effective way to avoid mouth ulcers.
  3. People using dental braces should visit the dentist regularly to check the health of gums.
  4. Any prevalent digestive or other disorders likely to cause mouth ulcers should be treated promptly.
  5. If you have pre-existing mouth ulcers, ensure that you complete medical treatment for the same in order to avoid their recurrence.

Despite all the precaution, people may experience bouts of a fresh case of mouth ulcers or old ones failing to heal. What should be done in such cases? Will home remedies still work for recurrent mouth ulcers? What is the best form of mouth ulcer treatment?

Time For A Medical Opinion

The best way to handle a case of mouth ulcers which occur recurrently or fail to heal is to see a doctor. Home remedies work wonders in case of a minor breakout of mouth ulcers, but in case of deeper disturbance, it is most advisable to get an expert opinion. 

Indications that you need to see a doctor for treating mouth ulcers:

  1. Mouth ulcers recurring with alarming frequency
  2. Failure of mouth ulcers to heal
  3. Rapid increase in the number or size of mouth ulcers or both
  4. Bleeding from the mouth ulcers
  5. Associated symptoms which may indicate the presence of an underlying disorder

Mouth ulcers may be a seemingly minor disorder but may cause great inconvenience if neglected. Seek prompt mouth ulcer treatment with home remedies and by consulting with a doctor to avoid any health complications. Seeking medical help is the best treatment option for mouth ulcers. A small effort from your end will make it easy for you to eat, talk and smile without any pain.

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