Why Do We Get Those Painful Mouth Ulcers?
Minor mouth ulcers will usually clear up quickly and could be caused by accidentally biting the inside of your cheek while eating or from a sharp tooth or filling. However, it is those painful mouth ulcers that keep coming back to cause so much discomfort that are the main problem.
Mouth ulcers can be genetic
It is thought that many serious mouth ulcer conditions run in families – with a figure as high as 40%. But there are several triggers, those factors that set them off…
What are the triggers for painful mouth ulcers?
- Stress and anxiety and we all know what we need to do about that.
- Hormonal changes can lead to some women developing mouth ulcers during their monthly period.
- The eating of certain foods including chocolate, coffee, peanuts, almonds, strawberries, cheese, tomatoes and wheat flour.
- The toothpaste additive known as sodium lauryl sulphate can aggravate or even cause mouth ulcers in some. Look for natural chemical free toothpaste to use instead.
- Taking that step to quit smoking. Unfortunately when some make the decision to stop smoking, they may develop mouth ulcers caused by the body having to deal with the change in chemicals. But it is not all bad news because this is just temporary and worth working through to achieve the goal of not smoking any longer.
- A vitamin deficiency in the form of vitamin B12 is one of the most common deficiencies affecting the mouth – and teeth. Apart from mouth ulcers, symptoms can include a burning sensation especially on the tongue; trouble swallowing; the tongue may feel swollen; and the tissue of the inner cheeks can be pale and may break apart easily and slough off.
- Another deficiency cause for mouth ulcers can be a lack of iron, leading to a reduction in the amount of oxygen reaching your organs and tissues.
There are other reasons why mouth ulcers appear
They can be one of the symptoms of these medical conditions.
1. Viral infections including the cold sore virus (herpes simplex) or chicken pox.
2. Celiac disease which is a common digestive condition where a person has an adverse reaction to gluten.
3. Crohn's disease which is a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system.
4. Reactive arthritis which is a condition that causes inflammation in various places in the body, usually as a reaction to an infection.
5. Immunodeficiency which is when the body's immune system is attacked or suppressed, for example through the HIV virus or the condition known as lupus.
Mouth ulcers can be a side effect caused by medications
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
- Nicorandil which is a medication sometimes used to treat angina.
- And of course chemotherapy and radiotherapy used to treat cancer.
If you ever suffer such a side effect from a prescribed medication or treatment, please tell your doctor at once.
How to prevent and treat mouth ulcers naturally
- Avoid spicy and sour foods until the ulcers heal.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Regularly rinse your mouth out with warm, slightly salted (using natural and not processed salt) water.
- Keep your mouth clean.
- Dab some raw honey onto the mouth ulcer or mix in a little turmeric to make a paste that can be applied on the affected area.
- Dry coconut, coconut oil and coconut water are all useful in treating mouth ulcers naturally. For example, you can drink coconut water to help cool the body; apply a little coconut oil directly onto the mouth ulcer; or chew some coconut flesh to help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Mix some sugar with crushed poppy seeds and swallow for instant relief from ulcers.
- Liquorice has several medicinal properties including being anti-inflammatory to help treat painful mouth ulcers. Use liquorice powder with a little raw honey and apply to the mouth ulcer or you can mix a little liquorice powder with turmeric into a glass of warm milk and drink three or four times daily.
While mouth ulcers left untreated will usually disappear within a week or two, you can expect much faster relief if you try one or more of the home remedies suggested above.
A word of warning
If you notice an ulcer in the mouth that is persistently present but without any pain, do not neglect it or try to treat it with home remedies for longer than a few days. Please see your medical practitioner because a painless mouth ulcer can be the sign of something more serious.
Canker sores. (2015).
my.clevelandclinic.org/services/head-neck/diseases-conditions/hic-canker-sores. (Accessed 22 July, 2021).
Canker sores. (n.d.).
mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/c/canker-sores. (Accessed 22 July, 2021).