What Causes Mouth Ulcers and How to Treat Them

Date: 9th June,2017

Almost every one of us has suffered through the excruciating pain caused by mouth ulcers at some point. Mouth ulcers are painful lesions that appear in the mouth or at the base of the gums. While they are painful and cause inconvenience, many people tend to ignore them. If your mouth ulcers persist even after two weeks, make sure that you contact your dentist as they can be a sign of an underlying condition.

In an NIH study, it was found that 21.7% of Indians suffer from mouth ulcers. The study also showed that they are more common in women and young adults. This article covers the causes, symptoms, and treatment of mouth ulcers along with some tips to deal with them.

What Causes Mouth Ulcers?

Mouth ulcers can be caused due to a number of reasons. Some common factors known to trigger their growth are:

1.      Oral Trauma and Irritation

One of the most common causes of mouth ulcers is oral trauma and irritation. Rough brushing, chewing hard foods, oral injury, ill-fitting braces, and broken or sharp teeth. can cause trauma and irritation. For some, using toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulphate also causes irritation that can lead to ulcers.

2.      Nutritional Deficiencies

We all need certain nutrients for our bodies to function properly. Vitamin B12, iron and folic acid deficiencies can cause mouth ulcers. If your ulcers tend to recur due to deficiencies, your doctor will prescribe a supplement or recommend an altered diet.

3.      Quitting Smoking

As surprising as it may seem, quitting smoking causes frequent mouth ulcers. However, this is a temporary problem and is resolved in 6 weeks. So, if you’re trying to kick the habit, you may experience frequent mouth ulcers for some weeks. But, the benefits of quitting smoking far outweigh the temporary inconvenience due to ulcers.

4.      Stress and Anxiety

Your emotional health affects your physical health. When you’re stressed, the hormones produced by your body puts you at high risk of mouth ulcers.

5.      Underlying Conditions

As mentioned earlier, ulcers can be a sign of some underlying problems. Ulcers are one of the symptoms caused by conditions like coeliac disease, crohn’s disease, reactive arthritis, and suppressed immune system. Until the underlying condition isn’t treated, canker sores will continue to appear and cause discomfort.

Symptoms of Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers are easy to identify and have some very distinguishable features. They are:

  • Circular or elliptical in shape
  • White, yellow, or grey in colour
  • Red and inflamed around the edges

They usually appear on and under the tongue’s surface & inside of lips and cheeks. On rare occasions, ulcers can form on the roof of the mouth. They are painful and can cause great discomfort while eating, brushing, speaking, and drinking.

Treatment for Mouth Ulcers

As mentioned earlier, mouth ulcers may take 7-14 days to subside. Hence, in most cases, no treatment is required. However, to rule out any underlying conditions as their cause, make sure that you visit your dentist. If no such condition is diagnosed, your dentist may prescribe a pain-relieving cream such as Mucopain.


Mucopain is a local anaesthetic agent that temporarily blocks nerve transmissions from the affected area, relieving pain. It is also insoluble in water, which prevents it from being wiped off due to saliva.

If your canker sores are large and recur frequently, your dentist may prescribe a corticosteroid ointment like Trioplast. Trioplast is an anti-inflammatory paste specially designed for treating mouth ulcers.


Helpful Tips for Dealing with Ulcers:

  1. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush like Thermoseal Ultra-Soft to brush your teeth if your ulcer is preventing you from brushing properly.
  2. Avoid hard foods like toasts and biscuits and eat only soft or liquid foods.
  3. For some people, hot and spicy foods can cause ulcers. If you have noticed certain foods triggering ulcers in the past, then avoid them.
  4. Reduce your stress levels by engaging in an activity that you enjoy. You can also try yoga and meditation for the same.
  5. Ulcers can be treated at home but if yours have lasted for more than 3 weeks, make sure that you visit your dentist.

Thermoseal Ultra Soft


  1. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Mouth-ulcer/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. https://www.icpahealth.com/product/hexigel/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3935903/
  4. http://www.webmd.boots.com/oral-health/guide/mouth-ulcers
  5. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms-causes
  6. http://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/M/Mouth-ulcer/Causes-of-mouth-ulcers.html
  7. http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20030224/ex-smokers-develop-mouth-ulcers-colds
  8. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-mouth-15/your-healthy-mouth/stress-teeth
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