Monday July 28 2014

What you should know about mouth ulcers

By Richard Kabanda

In medical terms, mouth ulcers are called stomatitis. These ulcers usually cause inflammation and sores around the mouth, and can easily disrupt a person’s ability to eat, talk or even sleep. Mouth ulcers can occur anywhere in or outside the mouth, including the area around the cheeks, gum, tongue, lips and the palate.
There are different types of mouth ulcers, caused by various reasons. Below we explore the major types of mouth ulcers and how they can be managed.

Canker sore
A canker sore, also known as an aphthous ulcer is a single pale or yellow ulcer with a red outer ring or a cluster that usually occurs around the cheeks, tongue or lips. They are usually painful and can last between five to 10 days before a person gets cured. However, canker sores tend to recur after a while. Note that these sores are not in any way associated with fever.

Cold sores
These are also called fever blisters. They are fluid-filled sores that occur on or around the lips. They are usually painful and the sores can last between seven to 10 days. Most cold sores are associated with flu-like symptoms. They rarely form on the gums or the roof of the mouth and symptoms include feeling of a tingling sensation, tenderness, or burning around the mouth.

Mouth irritation
This irritation can be caused by several factors including biting your cheek, tongue or lip, wearing braces, or having a sharp broken tooth, chewing tobacco, having gum disease (gingivitis) or other types of mouth infection. If you have allergy for some foods or take medicines such as antibiotics and treatment using chemotherapy, your risk of developing mouth irritation is high.

There many causes of oral ulcers, depending on the type. Generally, the common causes include weak immune system because of a cold or flu, hormonal changes or low levels of Vitamin B12, the use of certain medications, trauma to the mouth, poor nutrition, stress, bacteria or viruses, lack of sleep, sudden weight loss and consuming citrus fruits, coffee, chocolate, cheese and nuts.

This will depend on the cause of the ulcer, but visiting a dentist will ensure that you get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
However in some cases, the ulcers may occur without any cause, and may therefore not require treatment.

The writer is a dentist