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An uncomfortable subject 22-03-2017

At different points in our lives, we all suffer from mouth ulcers in one form or another. They can be incredibly sore or painful, and sometimes it can feel as though they are hanging around forever. However, many of us are unsure of what triggers them, what we can do about them, and when to seek help. Today’s article aims to shed some light on mouth ulcers, and to leave you feeling better informed about these uncomfortable inconveniences.

Mouth ulcers are essentially sores which develop on the inside of the mouth. They are normally red or yellow, and can be incredibly painful at times. They should not be confused with cold sores: these appear on the outer lips and are caused by viral infections.

There are two main types of mouth ulcers:

1.Traumatic ulcers – you can identify these as they often occur on their own. They normally appear following damage to your mouth, such as an injury caused by a sharp tooth, a brace or dentures, or when we accidentally bite the inside of our cheek or tongue. A traumatic ulcer appears next to where the damage has occurred, and will heal on it’s own once the problem has gone.

2.Recurrent aphthous stomatitis – this type of ulcer is identified as it regularly appears in your mouth, and is not linked to damage or injury being sustained. The cause of this type of ulcer is unknown and they don’t appear to be infectious or inherited.

There are a few other factors which may cause a mouth ulcer, though these are less common. You might, for example, have a bacterial infection and experience a mouth ulcer as part of this. The case is similar with viral infections. People who have anaemia or other blood disorders might also experience more mouth ulcers than most, as might people with certain skin or gastrointestinal disorders. Mouth ulcers can also be an indicator of mouth cancer. It’s important to look out for other signs of mouth cancer, such as single ulcers that last for a long time without there being an obvious cause (such as you not having bitten your cheek, for example). If you’ve had an ulcer for more than three weeks, or if you keep getting ulcers, it’s good to get checked out by your dentist.

When thinking about treatment, you really need to first establish the cause of your ulcer. For example, if there is a sharp tooth that is regularly injuring your mouth, you’ll need to have this filed down otherwise it will continue to cause ulcers in the same area. Underlying health conditions, such as anaemia, need to be treated in their own right otherwise the ulcers will continue. There are, however, a variety of mouthwashes and tablets available over the counter which can help you to manage your symptoms.

As well as treating ulcers when they arise, there are several steps you can take to prevent them from occurring in the first place. The first step is to keep up your regular dentist check-ups. Your dentist can look out for any signs in your mouth than may indicate a greater risk of ulcers. Ensure you follow a robust oral hygiene routine using high quality toothbrushes. In addition, eating a varied diet with lots of vitamins and fruits and vegetables will help to lessen your risk of ailments such as mouth cancer.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to prevent all mouth ulcers. However, by being mindful of the causes, and of the possible treatment options, it is possible to limit some of the discomfort that these sores bring. Knowing the causes and avoiding these should help to reduce the number of ulcers you experience.

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