Learn about the causes of Mouth Ulcers & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Mouth Ulcers within New Zealand.
Mouth ulcers are open sores in the lining of the mouth and are also known as aphthous ulcers or canker sores. There are three main types of mouth ulcer: minor, major and herpetiform. The two main causes of mouth ulcers are from accidental damage (minor food burns for example) and stress. Viral infections such as herpes (cold sores) are also a type of ulcer. An ulcer has a white or yellow oval centre and an inflamed red border.
The exact cause of mouth ulcers is unknown and someone suffering with
an ulcer may do so due to a number of reasons. Mouth ulcers are not
believed to have viral or bacterial causes but allergic reactions
may trigger ulcers in some people. Most mouth ulcers are typically
caused by accidental damage to the lining of the mouth such as biting
the inside of your cheek or brushing teeth incorrectly. This type of
ulcer is minor and usually clears up within a few days.
Other causes of recurrent mouth ulcers can be through stress, anxiety, hormonal changes (women's menopause or menstruation) or from eating certain foods. Foods known to increase the risk of developing mouth ulcers include chocolate, coffee, tomatoes, nuts, cheese and flour.
People who have recently quit smoking may suffer with recurrent mouth ulcers as the body deals with chemical changes. Family history of mouth ulcers can increase the chances of developing the problem and certain medications such as beta-blockers, anti-inflammatory pills and steroidal drugs can cause mouth ulcers too.
Mouth ulcers may also be a sign of another underlying condition. Inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's and Reiter's disease can spread to the mouth and cause ulcers. Vitamin B12, Folic acid and Iron deficiency can also lead to mouth ulcers.
Mouth ulcers can appear on the inside lining of the cheek, inside the
lips, the mouth floor and under the tongue, in fact any moveable part
of the mouth. A mouth ulcer can be identified by its appearance which
is typically oval or round, red and inflamed around the edge and can be
white, grey or yellow in colour.
Mouth ulcers are usually painful when drinking, eating, brushing teeth or sometimes when talking depending on where the ulcer is situated. The majority of ulcers are classed as 'minor' and heal after 10-14 days. They are usually 2mm to 8mm in size. 'Major' ulcers are larger and deeper and can be 1cm in size or more. Major mouth ulcers can take a number of weeks to heal and may cause scarring.
If there are multiple pinhead sized ulcers clustered together (anywhere from 5-100) then you may be suffering with herpetiform ulcers. These ulcers can become fused whereby they form one large painful sore which is of irregular shape and very painful.
Most minor mouth ulcers do not require diagnosis from a GP, however if
they appear on a regular basis and cause you significant pain then a
visit to the doctor is recommended. Also, any ulcer that has been
present for more than two to three weeks should be seen by a GP.
If you suffer with recurrent ulcers, a GP will check the appearance and location of the ulcer and also ask you a series of questions regarding frequency of the problem, family history, how long the ulcer has been present, pain severity and medications you have already used.
If necessary, a GP may refer you for blood tests to determine any infection or toxin that may be the cause. They may also do an Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test to see if there's any inflammation elsewhere in the body. A Ferritin test may be required to see if you have an iron deficiency or your GP may request a Vitamin B12 test as a lack of this vitamin is known to cause mouth ulcers.
If your ulcers have lasted for more than three weeks, are abnormal in appearance and have large white or red patches that bleed then this may be a sign of mouth cancer. It is important that you visit your GP immediately particularly if you're someone who is at high risk of developing mouth cancer i.e. male, over 45, heavy drinker and/or heavy smoker.