Mouth ulcers are open sores located inside the mouth. Ulcers develop for a number of reasons and can cause additional infections or inflammation. Mouth ulcers are pretty common, and can cause a great deal of pain. Some ulcers can be hidden on the inside of the mouth where no one is able to notice it, whereas others are more obvious and embarrassing. Despite the embarrassment and pain, mouth ulcers are simple to treat and get rid of.
It doesn't take much to determine whether or not you have a mouth ulcer. The more challenging part is determining what type of ulcer you have, although sometimes that is easy to find out if it was due to an injury of some sort. The mouth ulcers develop at the mouth's lining and look like pale open sores or holes.
The most common cause of a mouth ulcer is from an injury to the mouth, such as biting your lip or scratching too hard (such as with a toothbrush scratching the lip). Other causes include stress, illness, smoking, vitamin deficiencies, sudden weight loss, food allergies, and having the Herpes simplex virus. Herpes simplex virus is the most common cause of viral mouth ulcers. Tuberculosis can cause bacterial mouth ulcers to form and valley fever is among the fungal causes of forming mouth ulcers. Viral, bacterial and fungal mouth ulcers are also known as pathogenic oral ulcers which are caused by touching an open sore or scratch on your lips (such as with chapped lips) without first washing your hands. Mouth ulcers caused by issues with your immune system or vitamin deficiency are called aphthous ulcers. It is believed that the body causes these ulcers when fighting off unknown chemicals in the body. Having mouth ulcers of this type can occur repeatedly if your immune system issues are not addressed or corrected. Allergies that can cause mouth ulcers occur when that allergen touches the mouth and causes a reaction to the skin. There are also medical conditions that cause mouth ulcers to form which include Celiac Disease, Crohn's Disease, and Gingivostomatitis.
Mouth ulcers can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks at a time. The time frame depends on the type and cause of the ulcer. Rarely will a mouth ulcer be cancerous, but it can happen. Cancerous ulcers do not heal over time whereas others will begin to heal over a period of days. Continuous exposure to the cause of the mouth ulcer (such as if you continue to eat something that you are allergic to) will delay healing and may make symptoms worse.
Depending on how the mouth ulcer was caused, there are a number of things that you can do to prevent future ulcers from forming. Avoiding known allergens that cause ulcers is important, as is being careful not to bite or cause other trauma to your lips. Making sure that you are taking in an adequate amount of vitamins daily is important to eliminate any deficiencies that you may have. Using topical anithistamines, antacids, or corticosteroids help to soothe painful ulcers. If it seems that the ulcer is not going away or stays longer than 3 weeks, you will want to see your physician.
To prevent further damage or injury to your mouth ulcer, you will want to stay away from spicy foods for the duration of the ulcer. Washing your mouth and the area with antibacterial mouthwash for one minute, twice a day for two days will help to prevent getting bacteria into the open ulcer. To avoid causing damage to your sense of taste, you will want to flush the area using a small tube. Keeping certain mouthwashes in your mouth for a minute or longer is not advisable.