Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers are located in the oral mucosa, the lips and the tongue. Although they are not life-threatening, they are quite painful and can restrict the food and fluid intake which worsens the life quality. They may occur isolated or in greater numbers. Frequent occurrence of mouth ulcers may additionally be associated with some other diseases.


The causes of mouth ulcers are not entirely clear. They seem to have a relationship to stress and mechanical damage of oral mucosa. This situation most commonly occurs when a person accidentally injures himself by his or her own teeth or tooth brush. Meal (especially solid food that can mechanically damage the mucosa) can also have some influence. And last but not least there is the lack of certain vitamins, folic acid and iron. Fungal infection in the oral cavity may also play role in some forms of mouth ulcers.


It is important to know that the prevalence of mouth ulcers may be associated with certain autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. If a patient with recurrent sores has chronic diarrhea or other intestinal problems we should always exclude these diseases. Mouth ulcers also often appear by patients with AIDS.


The disease is manifested by one or more ulcers located in oral mucosa, tongue or lips. They are usually grayish formations protruding above the surface of the mucosa and red halo around the ulcer centre. Annoying pain, especially when eating, drinking, or touching them with tongue is typically present.


The sores are well seen in the oral cavity. If a patient with recurring mouth ulcers presents symptoms of diarrhea, we can serologically detect celiac antibodies from his blood or perform colonoscopy to exclude ulcerative colitis.


If a person finds that some type of food causes sores, he or she should avoid it. It is also suitable to increase the intake of B vitamins (especially vitamin B12 is very important) and folic acid. That means a lot of fruit, vegetables and meat (which is very rich on B12 vitamin) or some vitamin supplements. There is quite a problem with lemons and oranges which on one side contain a lot of vitamins but on the other side damage and irritate sores by citric acid.


In addition to prevention measures listed above, people use antibacterial solutions and mouthwash to soothe the oral cavity. Many of these are available in a pharmacy without a prescription. If mouth ulcers are recurrent, very painful, or connected with other symptoms it is advisable to visit a doctor.


It is definitely not recommend self-medicating by a liquor "to burn the ulcers”. It doesn't help and it is pretty painful.

Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources