What are mouth ulcers?
Ulcers are painful sores that appear inside the mouth. They are usually red or yellow. They are different from cold sores, which appear on the outer lips and are caused by a virus.
What are the common causes of mouth ulcers?
Usually, a single mouth ulcer is due to damage caused by biting the cheek or tongue, or by sharp teeth, brushing or poorly fitting dentures. These ulcers are called ‘traumatic’ ulcers. If you have a number of ulcers, and they keep coming back, this is called ‘recurrent aphthous stomatitis’.
How do I know if I have a traumatic ulcer?
Traumatic ulcers are usually on their own, are next to the cause of the damage and go away once the source of the problem is removed.
What are the signs of recurrent aphthous stomatitis?
Recurrent aphthous stomatitis is a common problem, and is the repeated appearance of ulcers in otherwise healthy children and young people. The cause is not known, but it is not infectious and is unlikely to be inherited.
Are there different types of recurrent mouth ulcers?
Minor ulcers are the most common. They can appear inside the cheeks, and on the lips, tongue and gums and, more rarely, on the roof of the mouth. Most of these ulcers are the size of the top of a pencil and can sometimes come in clusters. You can get four to six at any one time.
Large ulcers are more severe and can take longer to heal. Any ulcer that lasts longer than 3 weeks should be checked by your dentist. Large ulcers may appear near the tonsils and can be very painful, especially when you swallow. You usually only get one at a time.
It is also possible to have up to 100 very small, painful ulcers which last for one to two weeks. However, these last two varieties are very rare.
You may get ulcers in other parts of the body such as your eyes or genital area. It is important to tell your dental team about this.
What are the less common causes of mouth ulcers?
Infections can cause mouth ulcers. Herpes simplex often causes mouth ulcers in children and some adults. Other less common viral and bacterial infections may cause ulcers, but this is rare. Mouth ulcers can be caused by anemia and occasionally by other blood disorders, and some skin or gastrointestinal diseases. Sometimes mouth ulcers are the only sign of an underlying disease.
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