What Are Mouth Sores, and What Causes Them?

What Are Mouth Sores

Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, are painful, small lesions in the mouth, commonly at the base of the gums. They can make it challenging to eat, drink, and talk.

Adolescents, women, and those with a family history of canker sores are at greater risk of developing mouth sores. Often, these lesions are not contagious, and they go away on their own in approximately two weeks. But if the ulcers are large, painful, and last for quite some time, it’s time to seek professional help.

Canker sores have three main classifications- minor, major, and herpetiform sores. Minor sores usually measure from 3-10 mm is the most common type that lasts for 14 days. Major sores are significantly more profound and more extensive. They have unusual borders and could take at least a month to heal. They can also leave a scar on the mouth.

On the other hand, herpetiform sores are distinguished as multiple ulcers. They are smaller in size, but they are big in number. They can also take a longer time to heal, although they barely leave any scars.

What Causes Mouth Ulcers?

According to health experts, there is no definite cause for mouth ulcers. But some factors could trigger their sudden emergence, such as:

  • Injury due to dental work, brushing extensively, sports injury, and biting accidentally.
  • Oral care products containing sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Sensitivities to food such as citrus, strawberries, pineapples, coffee, and chocolate.
  • Lack of essential nutrients, particularly zinc, iron, folate, and B-12.
  • Allergy to mouth bacteria.
  • Effects of dental braces.
  • Hormonal changes due to menstruation.
  • Lack of sleep and stress.
  • Fungal, viral, and bacterial infections.

Canker sores can also be a symptom of certain medical conditions that require comprehensive treatments. Some examples are:

  • Celiac disease
  • Behcet’s disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diabetes

Some drugs and medication can also cause canker sores, such as:

  • Immunosuppressants
  • Aspirin
  • Oral nicotine
  • Beta-blockers
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Platelet aggregation inhibitors
  • Antibiotics
  • Vasodilators
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antiretrovirals

Signs and Symptoms

Mouth ulcers are painful. They might appear in the gums, tongue, inside the cheeks, lips, or the roof of the mouth. If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, don’t hesitate to visit a family dental care clinic right away.

That said, here are the common symptoms:

  • A prickling, tingling, or burning sensation in the mouth for more than 24 hours.
  • Ulcers in different colors (gray, yellow, or white)
  • Severe pain.
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking, and eating.

Some symptoms also indicate that a severe underlying infection is taking place:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss
  • Thrush infection
  • Fever
  • Sluggishness

Home Remedies for Mouth Sores

As mentioned, mouth sores should go away on their own in two weeks. If they are starting to cause you too much pain for a much longer time, call your doctor immediately. In the meantime, here are some remedies you can try to manage the discomfort.

  • Topical medication is directly applied to the painful area. Oral drugs and mouthwashes can provide temporary relief for pain and inflammation.
  • Put ice chips inside your mouth and let them melt to reduce pain.
  • As much as possible, avoid acidic foods since they might trigger the pain.
  • If lack of vitamins is the cause, take supplements.
  • Do not brush your teeth harshly and use soft-bristled toothbrushes only.
  • Use mouthwash and toothpaste without sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Mix Benadryl liquid with milk of magnesia and rinse your mouth with the solution. Also, apply milk of magnesia to the mouth ulcer with a cotton swab.
  • Rinse your mouth with baking soda solution or saltwater. To do this, mix one tbsp of baking soda with half a cup of water.
  • Consider zinc lozenges as they can provide relief and speed up your healing time. But this option is not recommended for young children.
  • Take vitamin B complex, vitamin C, and lysine.
  • Eat lots of carrots, cantaloupe, and celery.

What to Do if Your Mouth Ulcers Are Recurrent

There are instances where you should never ignore your mouth ulcers. If you have been suffering from canker sores for a long time, it’s most likely due to an underlying medical condition that needs prompt treatment. It would be wiser to see a doctor or a specialist in cases like this.

Mouth ulcers might also be genetic. However, it’s important to note that some diseases that can affect the immune response like HIV/AIDS, lupus, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease can also result in canker sores. Go to your trusted doctor immediately so you can get tested for the possible underlying medical cause of your mouth sores.

Overall, mouth ulcers should not be permanent. They should heal in two weeks. Otherwise, you need to visit a doctor. Make sure to observe your symptoms and get proper treatment accordingly to prevent any complications.

Meta title: Mouth Sores: Causes, Symptoms, and Home Remedies
meta desc: Mouth sores are usually painful. If you have mouth sores, learn about their possible causes, as well as home remedies you can try to reduce pain.

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