By Medicover Hospitals / 12 Jan 2021
A canker sore is an ulcer that occurs on the mucous membrane of the oral cavity. Mouth ulcers are very common, occur in association with many diseases and through many distinctive mechanisms, however, there may be no severe underlying cause.
- What are mouth ulcers or canker sores?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home Remedies
What are mouth ulcers or canker sores?
Mouth ulcers are painful in the gums and mouth. They are also known as canker sores. These make eating, drinking, and talking uncomfortable. Women, men, teens, and people with a family history of mouth ulcers are at high risk of developing mouth ulcers. Mouth ulcers are not contagious and usually go away within a week or two. However, if you have a mouth ulcer that is large or extremely painful, or if it lasts for a long time without healing, seek the advice of a doctor.
Types of mouth ulcers:
Minor mouth ulcers:
- They are usually small
- They are oval with a red border
- Heals without scarring in one to two weeks
Major mouth ulcers:
Major mouth ulcers are less common and:
- They are larger and deeper than minor canker sores
- They are usually round with sharp edges but may have ragged edges when they are very large
- Can be extremely painful
- It can take up to six weeks to heal and can leave extensive scars
Herpetiform mouth ulcers:
Herpetiform mouth ulcers are rare and usually develop later in life, but they are not caused by an infection with the herpes virus. These mouth ulcers:
- Are exactly sized
- They often occur in groups of 10 to 100 sores but can merge into one large ulcer
- Have ragged edges
- Heals without scarring in one to two weeks
Mouth ulcers vs mouth cancer:
There are some fundamental differences between mouth ulcers and what could be cancer:
- Mouth ulcers are very painful, while mouth cancer is not.
- Mouth ulcers will go away in about 2 weeks, while mouth cancer will not go away and will often spread.
- Mouth cancer patches can be rough, hard, and not easy to remove.
- Mouth cancer is usually a mixture of red and white areas or large white areas that appear on the tongue, the back of the mouth, the gums, or the cheeks.
- Mouth cancer is often related to excessive consumption of alcohol or tobacco.
Mouth ulcer versus cold sore:
Cold sores are similar to cold sores. However, unlike canker sores or cold sores, cold sores can appear outside of the mouth. Cold sores also first appear as blisters, not inflamed sores, and develop into sores after they break out.
Cold sores are caused by the simplex herpes virus. This virus is carried within your body and can be triggered by stress, exhaustion, and even sunburn. You can also get cold sores on your lips, nose, and eyes.
An ulcer usually forms as a break in the skin or mucous membrane with loss of superficial tissue. They are small, round sores that can be red, yellow, or gray. They occur on the lining of the oral cavity (mucous membrane), usually on the inner surface of the lips and cheeks.
Mouth ulcers can also be a sign of conditions that are more serious and require medical treatment, such as:
- minor mouth injury from dental work, rough brushing, sports injury, or accidental bite
- toothpaste and mouthwashes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate
- biting your tongue, cheek, or lip
- burn your mouth
- experience irritation from a sharp object, such as braces, retainers, or dentures
- food sensitivity to acidic foods like strawberries, citrus, and pineapples, and other trigger foods like chocolate and coffee
- lack of essential vitamins, especially B-12, zinc, folic acid, and iron
- allergic response to oral bacteria
- dental braces
- hormonal changes during menstruation
- emotional stress or lack of sleep
- bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
- celiac disease (a condition in which the body cannot tolerate gluten)
- inflammatory bowel disease
- diabetes mellitus
- behcet's disease (a condition that causes inflammation throughout the body)
- a malfunctioning immune system that causes your body to attack healthy oral cells instead of viruses and bacteria
- HIV / AIDS
The doctor will be able to diagnose mouth ulcers through a visual exam. If you have frequent and severe mouth ulcers, you may be tested for other medical conditions, and the healthcare provider will examine your mouth, tongue, and lips. If they suspect you have cancer, they can do a biopsy and do some tests.
A cancerous lesion can appear like a mouth ulcer, but it will not heal without treatment. Some symptoms of oral cancer are similar to those of canker sores, such as painful ulcers and swelling in the neck. But oral most cancers is often indicated through specific symptoms, including:
- a virus
- a vitamin or mineral deficiency
- a hormonal disorder
- a problem with your immune system
- a serious break
If you experience these symptoms along with thrush symptoms, see your doctor right away to rule out oral cancer as the cause.
- bleeding from the mouth or gums
- loose teeth
- difficulty swallowing
Most mouth ulcers do not need treatment. However, when you have mouth ulcers regularly or if they're extremely painful, various treatments can lower ache and recovery time. Treatment is unnecessary for minor canker sores, which go away on their own in a week or two. But large, persistent, or unusually painful sores often require medical attention. Minor mouth ulcers usually go away naturally within 10-14 days but can last up to six weeks. Some simple home remedies can help reduce pain and possibly speed up the healing process. In some cases, you may need blood tests if it is suspected that you may have an underlying deficiency (such as a deficiency in iron, folic acid, or vitamin B) or an inflammatory condition.
If your oral health professional cannot determine the cause of your mouth ulcers, or if the ulcers do not respond to normal treatments, you may need to biopsy part of the ulcer and some of the surrounding tissue. A biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of tissue is taken for examination and diagnosis.
Treatment for large, long-lasting, or unusually painful sores may include:
- Mouthwashes. Your doctor may prescribe a rinse that has an asteroid or a pain reliever.
- Oral medications.Your physician may prescribe some oral medication to reduce the mouth ulcer.
- Nutritional supplements.You may need them if a nutrient deficiency is causing your canker sores.
- Cauterization.Dental lasers can help you feel better right away. Your doctor may also cauterize the sores with chemicals such as debacterol or silver nitrate.
When to visit a Doctor?
People who have mouth ulcers can often have a hard time knowing when to see a doctor. However, there are some situations in which a person should see a doctor as soon as possible. Some of these circumstances include:
Others may want to seek medical care or treatment for their ulcers if:
- the appearance of a non-painful ulcer in one or more areas of the mouth
- unusual ulcers that appear in a new place in the mouth
- ulcers that are spreading
- ulcers that last more than 3 weeks
- are particularly painful or large
- fever appears
- develop after starting a new medicine
- secondary bacterial infections
Chamomile tea and licorice (mulethi) have also been found to be beneficial.
- Honey has antimicrobial properties and can help to quickly repair any open wound. Besides reducing the ulcer, honey also protects the area from infections.
- Sodium bicarbonate is a compound used in many household cleaning solutions. It also acts as one of the best canker sores cures as it can significantly reduce pain.
- Rinse your mouth with warm saline water 2-3 times during the day. Keep the water in your mouth for a short time before spitting it out.
- Apply ghee to ulcers.
- Chew tulsi leaves, their natural anti-inflammatory properties help heal.
- The castor oil applied locally helps to relieve pain and discomfort.
- Put wet tea bags on the ulcer.
Frequently Asked Questions:
They are painful because the lining of the mouth has been removed so that the nerves are close to the surface. It means that anything in the mouth, or movement of the mouth when a person is speaking, can worsen and cause ache.
Canker sores are usually round or oval. They may appear white or yellow and may have a red border. Mouth ulcers can also vary in size from small to large. Large canker sores, which can also be called major canker sores, can be quite painful and take longer to heal.
Most of the time, mouth ulcers are completely harmless, however, they can be a symptom of mouth cancer in some rare cases. A cancer ulcer usually appears on or under the tongue, but can sometimes appear in another part of the mouth.
Devices for treating canker sores, tissues and methods thereof - https://patents.google.com/patent/US6104952A/en
Device and methods for treating canker sores by RF ablation - https://patents.google.com/patent/US5938658A/en
Adhesive tablet effective for treating canker sores in humans - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022354916393200
Relief of Canker Sores on Resumption of Cigarette Smoking - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1578433/