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What Are Mouth Ulcers?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2014
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Mouth ulcers are open sores that develop inside a person’s mouth. They are caused by a variety of things, including viruses, bacteria, and cancer. Sometimes sores develop as the result of a medical condition while others form while a person is using a certain type of medication. Mouth ulcers may also form because the inside of the mouth is injured, such as by a hard bite to the cheek or after a chemical irritates the oral cavity tissues.

In some cases, mouth ulcers form because of a person’s own immune system. In such a case, the immune system may overreact to a foreign body or treat the mouth tissue as if it were foreign, causing a sore in the affected area. Some people seem prone to developing them when they are fatigued, stressed, or ill with an unrelated condition. They may also form in relation to hormonal fluctuations and the sudden loss of weight. Mouth ulcers may even develop during a woman's menstrual period or as a result of vitamin deficiencies.

When a person has a mouth ulcer, the affected area may sting or burn. A spot or bump may appear next, though it is usually replaced by an open sore. The length of time the ulcer takes to fully develop may depend on what caused the ulcer.

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Typically, mouth ulcers are whitish, yellowish, or grayish and are surrounded by a red area of inflammation. In some cases, a white circle forms around the ulcerated tissue. The colored area inside of the reddened inflammation usually develops because layers of a protein called fibrin have formed at the site of the ulcer. Sometimes a person also experiences swollen glands in the area below the jawline while he has a mouth ulcer.

Often, mouth ulcers go away on their own, without requiring any medical treatment. Sometimes people use oral numbing agents to reduce pain and make living with them more tolerable. Depending on the severity of the case, a person may need a prescription medication to numb the area. Minor cases can be treated with over-the-counter medications instead. In very severe cases, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics or steroids to treat mouth ulcers.

Usually, patients aim to merely treat the symptoms of mouth ulcers, as their causes are often undiagnosed. If the specific cause of a mouth ulcer is known, a doctor may treat that condition as well. A person should seek medical advice if he’s has a mouth ulcer for more than three weeks.

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Discuss this Article

anon241259
Post 4

I was suffering from mouth ulcers for the last thirty years. I tried allopathic, Ayurvedic and homoeopathic treatment but they were of no use. By taking a naturopathic treatment I, was fully cured in one month. I have cured permanently many persons of mouth ulcers.

ysmina
Post 3

@feruze-- Have you heard of magic mouthwash? It's a special mouthwash that is prescribed by the doctor. It has different ingredients in it depending on what it's being used for. The doctor writes the prescription and the pharmacist mixes it up for you. Magic mouthwash has done wonders for my recurrent mouth ulcers.

Aside from that, gargling with warm salt water is a good home remedy to kill bacteria in the mouth and helps with preventing ulcers too. I've heard that taking folic acid supplements helps, but can't vouch for that one because I've never tried them. I do know that folic acid is essential in the diet though, so it probably helps.

bear78
Post 2

My sister gets mouth ulcers a lot. She has Crohn's disease, it's an inflammatory disease that affects the digestive system. Mouth ulcers was one of the first symptoms she had of the disease and has suffered from them since her diagnosis.

They usually come up in clusters and can get very bad. I remember times that she couldn't speak or eat properly because of it. If it comes up in the back of her throat, it makes it hard for her to swallow too.

Mouth hygiene helps, but she hasn't really found any mouth ulcer cures. Does anyone know any remedies that might help?

fify
Post 1

I get a mouth ulcer whenever I use a prescribed medication for over two weeks. The medication is a proton pump inhibitor that helps limit the production of acid in the stomach. I take it for acid reflux disease.

The only problem with it is that it causes a painful mouth ulcer after daily use. It usually shows up after the second week and does not go away unless I take a few days off of the medication. So that's what I do, I take it for 2 weeks and then stop for 3-4 days for the mouth ulcer to go away.

The medication doesn't even list this as a side effect but it can't be a coincidence. I don't have any viral or bacterial infections and I take my vitamins so this has to be the reason.

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