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Ulcer in Mouth --- Causes and Top
10 Natural Remedies

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American Dental Association

May 14, 2012

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist






Millions of us suffer from this condition, but is an ulcer in your
mouth something to worry about? For such a tiny thing, a
mouth ulcer can be agonizing. Eating, drinking and brushing
your teeth can make you wince in pain. An ulcer in the mouth is
a round or oval-shaped sore often found on the inside of your
cheeks or at the base of your gums. Mouth ulcers are also
known as aphthous ulcers, or canker sores. What causes a
mouth ulcer and what can you do to lessen the pain when you
talk and eat? Is a mouth ulcer catching? Do you need to visit a
doctor to get rid of a mouth ulcer, or can natural remedies
work?

What are the Symptoms of Mouth Ulcers?

You will soon be able to tell you’ve got a mouth ulcer. The sore
will be small, round or oval and it will hurt when you touch it
with your tongue, your toothbrush or any food you eat. You
can get an ulcer on the inside of your lips and your cheeks,
where your gums meet your teeth, and underneath your
tongue. It is very rare to have an ulcer on the roof of your
mouth, however.  

What Type of Mouth Ulcer Do You Have?

There are three main varieties of mouth ulcer, and each one is a
pain. Minor ulcers are small (between 2 and 8mm wide) and
they are the most common. Major ulcers are deeper and bigger
– these mouth ulcers can cause scarring and may take many
weeks to heal. You may also be unfortunate enough to suffer
herpetiform ulcers, which are clusters of between 5 and 100
tiny sores grouped together.

How Many People Suffer From Mouth Ulcers?

Mouth ulcers are very common. According to the UK’s National
Health Service most people will have at least one ulcer in their
mouth during their lifetime. For one in five adults in the UK
(National Health Service, UK) recurrent mouth ulcers are a
problem – these mouth ulcers keep on coming back.

What are the Causes of Ulcers in the Mouth?

Mouth ulcers are different from cold sores – you can’t pass on
an ulcer to another person; they are not contagious like cold
sores. Most minor mouth ulcers are caused by damage to the
delicate soft tissue of the mouth. You could bite the inside of
your cheek, or use your toothbrush too aggressively.

Recurrent mouth ulcers are slightly different, and these may be
caused by certain underlying medical conditions. These include
vitamin B12 deficiency, and iron deficiency. Crohn's disease,
reactive arthritis,
lupus and Celiac disease can also cause mouth
ulcers.

In fact, a 2008 study from the University Hospital of Palermo  
discovered that, while 7% of us generally have mouth ulcers,
more than 22% of those with Celiac disease have mouth ulcers.

Are Mouth Ulcers Dangerous?

You’ll find that most minor mouth ulcers heal within 10 days to
two weeks. Don’t worry if you get a mouth ulcer – it is not
usually the sign of cancer or any other medical condition.
However, if the ulcer in your mouth doesn’t get better after
more than three weeks, it gets much more painful, or it
becomes inflamed, see your doctor.

While minor mouth ulcers do tend to get better by themselves,
there are several self-help remedies you can try to speed the
process along. We’ve checked out the medical evidence for
mouth ulcer cures to help you on the way to a happy mouth.




























1.
Prevent Mouth Ulcers with Good General Health

You can help your mouth remain free of ulcers in the first place
by taking care of yourself. Good general health benefits you in
so many ways, not least in cutting your risk of mouth ulcers.
You tend to get more ulcers in your mouth when you are run
down, so exercise regularly, sleep well, eat healthily and
manage stress.

People who suffer from regular mouth ulcers score higher than
average on anxiety tests than the rest of the population,
according to a 2009 study from the Universidade de São Paulo,
São Paulo, Brazil. Manage stress levels and cut down your risk
of mouth ulcers with meditation, yoga, deep breathing or
exercise.

2.
Prevent a Mouth Ulcer with Dental Hygiene

If you regularly suffer mouth ulcers then try to prevent them
with good dental hygiene techniques. Use a soft toothbrush to
avoid damaging the inside of your mouth, and try to avoid
sharp-edged or brittle foods. Following a good dental hygiene
routine can reduce the number of ulcer outbreaks you suffer,
according to research by the Tbilisi State Medical Academy,
Georgia in 2005.

3.
Avoid Certain Foods to Prevent Mouth Ulcers

According to the UK’s National Health Service, certain foods
spell trouble for mouth ulcer sufferers. These troublesome
foods include chocolate, coffee, almonds, peanuts,
strawberries, tomatoes, cheese and wheat flour. Cow’s milk
may also be a mouth ulcer culprit, according to 2009 research
from the Institute of Oncology and Radiology of Serbia. Try
cutting these foods from your diet if you find yourself plagued
by mouth ulcers.

4.
Does Stopping Smoking Cause Mouth Ulcers?

It seems that when you decide to stop smoking, you are
attacked with more mouth ulcers than usual. Is it true that
stopping smoking causes mouth ulcers? Yes, and the reaction is
normal – your body is dealing with a change in chemical levels.
However, the effects will be temporary and you shouldn’t let it
get in the way of your desire to quit.

Mouth ulcers are not a side effect of smoking cessation aids like
nicotine chewing gum or patches, according to 2004 research
from the Tobacco Dependence Research Centre, Queen Mary's
School of Medicine and Dentistry, London - the research
confirmed that mouth ulcers are a common result of stopping
smoking and affected two in five quitters but that they were
not a side-effect of medication used to quit.

5.
Licorice Helps an Ulcer in the Mouth

A special kind of licorice developed to treat ulcers can really
help make them disappear – this is according to a 1998 study
by Das SK, Das V, Gulati AK, et al, where 15 out of 20 patients
experienced improvement of their symptoms after one day. And
a herbal licorice extract shrank mouth ulcers much more quickly
than placebo in a 2008 study from University of Washington,
Seattle.

6.
Herbal Tablet to Treat Mouth Ulcers

Herbs can work wonders, not least on mouth ulcers. A 1990
study by the University Hospital (Rigshospitalet), Copenhagen,
Denmark used a mixture of paprika, rosemary, peppermint,
milfoil, hawthorn, and pumpkin seed to treat mouth ulcers and
other mouth conditions and found that the herbal mixture
significantly reduced the frequency of mouth ulcers. The herbs
were in tablet form and there were no side effects recorded.

7.
Aloe Vera for an Ulcer in the Mouth

Aloe vera gel is notoriously soothing and is used to treat many
painful conditions such as burns and grazes. Aloe vera in gel or
juice form can treat mouth ulcers, speeding up healing and
reducing the pain associated with the sore according to a 2005
report by Richard L. Wynn, PhD, in General Dentistry, the
Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical journal.

8.
Can Lavender Oil Treat Recurrent Mouth Ulcers?

Try a little sweet-smelling lavender oil to treat your mouth ulcer
– it just might work, according to research in 2012 from
Hawler Medical University, Erbil City, Kurdistan, Iraq. However,
the study didn’t take place on humans but on rabbits. The
animals treated with lavender oil showed an increased rate of
healing and skin repair compared to the placebo group. Human
trials show patients treated with lavender oil suffer less
inflammation, and the size of their ulcer shrinks. Never take
essential oils internally, however, as swallowing oils can be
dangerous.

9.
Change Your Toothpaste to Prevent Mouth Sores

You may not realize but your toothpaste could be causing your
mouth ulcers. Many toothpastes contain an ingredient called
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which makes the foam in your mouth
when you brush. This chemical can cause damage to the tissue
in your mouth resulting in mouth ulcers, according to 1996
research from the University of Oslo, Norway.

10.  
Chemicals Can Cause Mouth Ulcers

And cut your exposure to other chemicals too, in order to avoid
painful mouth ulcers. High levels of nitrates in your drinking
water could be causing your mouth ulcers, according to 1999
research from Satellite Hospital, Banipark, India. And excessive
use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also
give you mouth ulcers, according to 2009 studies from Kuwait
University, Kuwait. Keep your diet healthy and as free from
chemicals as possible to avoid an ulcer in the mouth.






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Licorice may help to heal mouth ulcers.

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