Even the most robust of us cannot function with a throbbing toothache, a broken toe, an inner ear infection, or a splinter under a fingernail. As localised and simple as they are, business as usual cannot go on until the point of pain is dealt with.
Mouth ulcers are one of these irritating facts of life that roughly 20 per cent of us have to endure from time to time.
What Are Mouth Ulcers?
Known technically as aphthous stomatitis, they are non-contagious sores that most commonly occur on the mucous membranes on the inside of the lips and cheeks, but may also occur in other locations inside the mouth.
They are sometimes called “canker sores”. However, this vernacular term is often inaccurately applied to cold sores and other skin lesions which may be symptoms of more serious, possibly contagious conditions.
Mouth ulcers start out as reddish coloured nodes that tingle, sting, itch, or are sensitive. They transform quickly into flat, white or yellowish coloured patches about 1 to 3 millimeter across, ringed by red, inflamed mucous tissue.
They are not blisters. They are not turgid bubbles of fluid. They itch and sting. They beg to be touched and scratched, yet increase in intensity if they are disturbed.
Science has not yet been able to determine exactly what causes mouth ulcers. They seem to be associated with physical and/or emotional stress. Anxiety in one’s life or an out-of-balance diet or malnutrition may be factors. Dietary reactions (such as gluten or fluoride intolerance) may have some responsibility.
Mechanical trauma can cause an outbreak (especially if one is already prone to them) such as biting one’s cheek or irritation from orthodontic hardware. Judging by the large numbers of T cells (80%) at the point of the sore, it seems to be an auto-immune system response of some sort.
Episodes of Aphthous Stomatitis often last between five and ten days, and can occur three to six times a year. It is NOT an indication of any underlying medical condition, is not infectious, and does not become worse over time, but rather decreases with age.
There is no cure for Aphthous Stomatitis. Treatment focuses on:
- Pain management
- Reduction of healing time
- Reduction in episodic frequency
Avoidance of spicy and acidic foods and beverages is the first priority. This means gravitating towards a bland diet and “cooling” foods such as yogurts, smoothies, vegetables, and cereals for a few days during the most painful time of the episode. Sugar and sweet foods, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, and coffee should be avoided.
If you are experiencing anxiety, worry, or emotional stress, increase your Vitamin B intake to help with your immune system. Taking a quality multi-vitamin daily is a good idea for almost everyone who is living a busy lifestyle.
Applying some items directly onto the ulcer can sometimes sooth the pain and speed healing. Some of these substances are: echinacea, thyme, golden seal, calendula, slippery elm, aloe vera, and zinc. Applying these directly as a tincture or making a tea and holding it in the mouth several times a day, can provide some relief.
Holding a lozenge of zinc-vitamin C (or some of the other items listed above) directly on the ulcer with the tongue until the lozenge dissolves, can sometimes be effective providing pain relief and facilitating healing.
Of course, long term, systemic treatment includes adopting a balanced, nutritious diet, and reducing stress from one’s lifestyle as much as possible. Good time management, meditation, physical fitness, and a healthy diet are all key elements to living a healthy and happy long life.
High-quality Dental Solutions at Innovative Dental
Your overall health and happiness are our ultimate goals here at Innovative Dental in Moonee Ponds. That is the guiding principle in everything we do.
We are a family and community oriented, full-service dental practice.
We use the most modern technology available and employ the latest techniques when it comes to long-term oral health care. You will get the best care and the finest treatment possible.
If you have any questions about your dental care, call us today at (03) 9346 8333
or Request an Appointment Online. You will receive an exam to determine any problem areas you might have and recommend a long-term dental care program designed to give you a beautiful smile.