Anyone who has ever experienced a mouth ulcer knows that just a little sore in the wrong place can be a big pain. Here’s expert advice from Dirna Grobbelaar, our Oral Hygiene Advisor, to you prevent mouth ulcer misery.
Mouth ulcers only appear inside the mouth, unlike cold sores or fever blisters, which only appear outside, usually on the lips or around the mouth. You’ll find mouth ulcers on the tongue or lining of the mouth, in singles or multiples. They are usually round and reddish.
Causes of Mouth Ulcers:
Most people will experience a sore inside the mouth at some point. These are often caused by a minor injury – biting the cheek accidentally, consuming food or drink that’s too hot, poorly-fitting dentures or braces, especially when orthodontics are initially fitted.
Aphthous ulcers are the ones that recur and often first appear in childhood or adolescence. They tend to return during hormonal changes, times of stress or anytime that the immune system is compromised for some reason.
Some people find eating acidic fruit (like pineapples, tomatoes or oranges) can cause mouth ulcers. Babies and young children might develop them because of common viruses like Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and the Coxsackie Virus.
Stress is a very common trigger for ulcers. They can also be a sign of conditions like coeliac disease or nutritional deficiencies (e.g. vitamin B12 which is common in vegans, zinc, iron or folic acid).
Treatment for Mouth Ulcers:
Mouth ulcers are not contagious and usually clear up by themselves in a few days. A proper oral hygiene routine to keep the mouth as clean as possible help them heal more quickly. For more on the ideal oral care routine when you have ulcers read this blog article.
There are various over-the-counter medications available that help relieve the discomfort and pain. We recommend Aloclair gel or spray which are easy to apply, even in a young child’s mouth. The soothing Aloclair formula contains aloe vera and helps form a barrier over the exposed nerve endings, giving almost immediate relief.
Mouth ulcers tend to last up to 10 to 14 days. Consult your doctor or dentist if your ulcer does not heal within three weeks. Oral cancer is predicted to treble in the next generation and it’s important to rule it out.
Five tips to manage mouth ulcers:
- Avoid very hot, spicy, salty or acidic foods and drink
- Use Aloclair gel or spray to form a protective barrier over the ulcer
- Use a straw when drinking
- Rinse with GUM Alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash, an alcohol-free mouthrinse
- Maintain a good oral hygiene routine using GUM Alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash gel (instead of a strong, minty toothpaste) with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush
For further advice speak to your doctor, dentist or pharmacist.
We recommend these products to help manage mouth ulcers:
Aloclair Spray (15ml)
Aloclair Gel (8ml)
These products are available from Dis-Chem, selected pharmacies and dentists.