518 Te Atatu Road, Te Atatu Peninsula, 0610
reception@opaldental.co.nz
518 Te Atatu Road, Atatu Peninsula, 0610
reception@opaldental.co.nz
Call 09 834 6359

Mouth ulcers are sores that develop inside the mouth. There are different types, and they may be large or small.

Sometimes, mouth ulcers may be painful or make it uncomfortable to eat or drink properly.

In this post, we’re going to tell you what you need to know about mouth ulcers and how they link with your oral health.

What causes mouth ulcers?

There are lots of different reasons why you may develop a mouth ulcer. Common causes include:

  • Accidentally biting the inside of your cheek or your tongue
  • A sharp tooth rubbing against the inside of your mouth
  • Friction from braces or aligners
  • Poorly fitting dentures
  • Toothpaste or mouthwash containing sodium lauryl sulphate
  • Infection in the mouth
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamins B9 and B12, zinc or iron
  • Stress

Symptoms of mouth ulcers

Mouth ulcers appear as yellow, red or white sores inside your mouth — for example, on the inside of your cheek or on your tongue.

You may have a red, inflamed area around the sore, and it can be painful to eat, drink or talk.

You may also have a single ulcer or a cluster of them.

Ulcers are sometimes confused with cold sores. Cold sores usually appear on or around your lips. They are filled with fluid, so they’re more like blisters.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus and are contagious, while mouth ulcers are not.

What’s the treatment for mouth ulcers?

Mouth ulcers usually clear up on their own and don’t need any special treatment.

However, you can soothe soreness by doing the following:

  • Rinse your mouth out with saltwater. Dissolve a teaspoon in a glass of warm water and use twice a day.
  • Apply ice.
  • Apply a paste made from baking soda.
  • Use over-the-counter products made for mouth ulcers from your local pharmacy. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you on these.

When should I consult my doctor or dentist about an ulcer?

Consult a medical professional about your mouth ulcer if:

  • It lasts more than three weeks.
  • It is particularly big.
  • New ulcers appear before old ones heal.
  • The sores are painless.
  • The ulcer extends to your lips.
  • Over-the-counter medication doesn’t relieve the pain.
  • You have problems eating and drinking.
  • You experience a fever and diarrhoea when your mouth ulcers appear.
  • A sharp tooth or dental appliance is causing your ulcer — your dentist will be able to fix this for you.

What about the link with oral cancer?

Oral cancer (also called mouth cancer) can appear as a white or red patch in your mouth or a sore. Typically, these lesions aren’t painful and don’t seem to heal. They may feel like a rough patch.

Other symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Pain in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Unplanned weight loss

If your ulcer hasn’t got better within two weeks, then it could be a sign of oral cancer. In this case, consult your doctor or dentist straight away. They will be able to take a biopsy of the area to find out whether the ulcer is cancer and start a treatment plan if necessary.

We’re here to help!

Mouth ulcers are usually nothing to worry about and go away on their own.

But if you are concerned about an ulcer, it’s best to consult your doctor or dentist.

You can book a check-up with us here at Opal Dental, your local dentist for Te Atatu, if you’re worried about any aspect of your oral health — we’re here to help!

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