Mouth ulcers are cracking of the mouth mucosa, which exposes the sensitive tissue under the mucous membrane. All mouth ulcers are quite similar, although the causes and severity of the illness vary considerably.
The two most common types are aphthous ulcers, which usually occur when you are stressed, exhausted or sick, and traumatic ulcers, which are the result of injury on the mouth mucosa (e.g. after using a toothbrush, eating hot food, or biting the mouth or tongue).
Some ulcers are the result of infection; one example is a disease called herpes simplex, in which the ”bubbles” in the mouth gradually change into the ulcers. In rare cases, n ulcer may be the first sign of mouth or tongue tumor, and even some systemic diseases such as anemia or leukemia.
You will feel aphthous or traumatic ulcer for the first time when you eat something spicy or sour (e.g. grapefruit), because you will feel pain on that spot. All ulcers look the same; you will usually notice them in the mirror as pale yellow spots with red edges. Aphthous ulcers are small (usually 2 to 3 mm in diameter), sometimes occurring in groups, are painful and last for up to ten days. Traumatic ulcers are somewhat larger and last for a week or longer. If the cause of the traumatic ulcer is a rough tooth or denture, it will not heal until the root cause is resolved.
Mouth ulcers are very common; sooner or later, one person out of ten can have it (one ulcer or more). Aphthous ulcers usually occur in adolescents and young adults, and are usually more common in women (especially before menstruation).
What to do?
Mouth ulcers are generally not a major health problem, and usually disappear by themselves or after self-help measures.
If you suspect that you have traumatic ulcer because of a rought tooth or deture, consult your dentist. On the other hand, if the ulcer does not disappear within three weeks, or if you often get ulcer (or ulcers), go to a doctor who will examine you and try to find out the root cause. He will probably take a blood sample for a lab scan, and you may have to spend one morning or afternoon in a hospital for anesthetized biopsy (under local anesthesia). The laboratory examination of the ulcerative tissue will indicate a possible basic disorder, which you will then treat.
Self-help: you can buy preparations and pastilles to alleviate the problems and to protect the exposed ulcerative tissue in any drugstore. These agents alleviate the pain and contribute to faster healing. Antiseptic mouthwash will also help, as well as washing your mouth with a warm water. Avoid spicy and sour food until the ulcers disappear.
Professional help: to solve your problem with unpleasant and persistent aphthous ulcer (or ulcers), your doctor or dentist will prescribe a mouthwash or corticosteroid fat.