Lately I have had painful ulcers cropping up in my mouth. They are extremely painful and they make it very difficult for me to talk, drink or eat. Just when I think they have disappeared, they pop back up again. Why does this happen and what can I do to prevent
these ulcers from coming back?
Mouth ulcers are painful sores that appear inside the mouth. They typically appear red or yellow and they are not to be confused with cold sores, which appear on the outer lips as a result of a virus.
If you have just a single ulcer in your mouth, a likely cause is biting your cheek or tongue. Sharp teeth, aggressive brushing or poorly fitting dentures can also cause damage in the mouth, resulting in ulcers. These ulcers are referred to as traumatic ulcers.
On the other hand, if you have multiple ulcers in your mouth and they are recurrent, never really going away, this is a separate condition known as recurrent aphthous stomatitis.
A less common cause of mouth ulcers is viral and bacterial infections, but this is a rare occurrence. In certain cases, anaemia or other blood disorders, skin diseases or even gastrointestinal diseases may also result in mouth ulcers. Mouth ulcers can sometimes be a warning sign of underlying disease.
Different types of recurrent mouth ulcers
· Minor ulcers: These are the most common type of mouth ulcers and they typically appear inside the cheeks, on the lips, tongue and gums and sometimes on the roof of the mouth as well. These ulcers can sometimes appear in clusters and they are no bigger in size than the top of a pencil. You can expect to get anywhere between 4-6 minor ulcers at any given time.
· Large ulcers: This is a more severe condition as large ulcers can take a longer time to heal. If a large ulcer lasts longer than 3 weeks, you need to consult a dentist. When large ulcers appear near the tonsils, the pain that you experience especially while swallowing can be very severe.
How to prevent mouth ulcers
Mouth ulcers are not contagious and cannot be spread by sharing drinks and utensils for instance.
Here are some ways in which you can reduce your risk of mouth ulcers:
· Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping your mouth as clean as possible · Using good toothbrushes and practicing good brushing technique
· Having a healthy diet rich in vitamins A, C and E
· Scheduling regular appointments with your dentist
Cause for concern?
Most ulcers heal and go away on their own. However, if a mouth ulcer does not heal within 3 weeks or if your mouth ulcers keep coming and going, you should visit a dentist and get a mouth examination. This will help to determine whether there is a serious underlying medical cause.