Mouth ulcers tend to be small lesions on the tongue, on the inside of the cheeks or the roof of the mouth – and like so many minor problems, they are something that everybody will suffer from at some stage. They’re often called aphthous ulcers and have a pale grey base and a slightly raised yellowish edge, tinged with a narrow, inflamed border.
Some people find ulcers hurt so unbearably that eating is impossible. Fortunately, for most they’re just a temporary nuisance. They may be painful, even unsightly, but they are harmless and will disappear of their own accord after a week or so.
Despite all the research that has been carried out, we still have no real idea what causes mouth ulcers. We do know, however, that a person is more likely to develop them if he or she is under stress, unwell, over-tired, depressed or suffering from any form of emotional upset. People in high-powered jobs, young mothers and toddlers with flu all seem to be prone to attacks. Many women find they suffer from mouth ulcers almost monthly, around the time of their period.
If you have ever had a mouth ulcer, you will be able to recognise the symptoms. Hours before they appear, the mouth will become over-sensitive or you’ll experience a burning or tingling sensation. Pretty soon, blisters with red margins appear in your mouth. When they erupt they produce small, round ulcers with greyish or dirty white centres, which are often extra sensitive to salty and acidic foods.
Mouth ulcers may clear up within a few days or take over a week to disappear. In most cases, no treatment is needed. But if the ulcer is particularly painful, an antiseptic mouthwash or pastilles or gel containing antiseptics and local anaesthetics can ease soreness. A supplement of folic acid, one of the B vitamins, may help shorten an attack or prevent another one occurring .
Badly fitting dentures can rub against the side or roof of the mouth and sometimes this can cause an outbreak of ulcers. If that is the source of your problem, a cream called Aezodent, which is mildly anaesthetic and has a gum ‘adhesive’ to help hold the denture securely in place, may bring relief.
If any ulcer is abnormally large or lasts for more than two weeks, you should certainly consult your doctor. But if you find you’re getting frequent attacks of ulcers, even though they heal quickly, it may well be worth taking a careful look at the way you live and trying to reduce any stress in your life. Find a method of regular relaxation that suits you and your lifestyle – that might mean taking a form of gentle exercise or listening quietly to music. Another simple way to combat stress is to try to get more sleep – a few early nights can work wonders.
Aezodent, Anbesol, Bioral Gel, Ress Q, Rinstead Adult Gel, Rinstead Pastilles, Ulc-Aid Gel, Ulc-Aid Lozenges
Rinstead Pastilles, Anbesol