Mouth ulcers are a common yet painful infliction. They usually present as round or oval sores that are found inside the mouth, developing on the lips, cheeks or tongue. Their appearance can vary; mouth ulcers can be red, white, yellow or grey in colour and are usually swollen. It is possible for a sufferer to experience multiple mouth ulcers at a time, which unfortunately may spread and grow. Although very uncomfortable, mouth ulcers are in most cases harmless. Without treatment, the majority of mouth ulcers will clear up within a fortnight.
In some cases, the causes of mouth ulcers are still unclear. However, most single ulcers are the result of damage to the lining inside of the mouth. This damage can be the result of:
- Accidently biting the inside of the cheek or lips.
- Eating hard or sharp-edged food.
- Having dentures that do not fit properly.
- Having a defective filling.
It is not always clear what causes recurrent mouth ulcers to develop, though triggers are thought to include:
- Hormonal changes, such as a woman’s monthly period.
- Anxiety or stress.
- Certain foods, such as spicy foods, chocolate, cheese, tomatoes, strawberries, almonds, peanuts, wheat flour and coffee.
- Smoking cessation, which has been known to cause mouth ulcers in its initial stages.
Genetics can also be a contributing factor as around 40% of recurrent mouth ulcer sufferers report that the condition runs in their family. Certain medical conditions can also cause mouth ulcers, these include:
- Crohn’s disease.
- Coeliac disease.
- Hand, foot and mouth disease.
- The cold sore virus.
- Reactive arthritis.
- Behcet’s disease.