Mouth ulcers, canker sores, cold sores. The words are often used interchangeably to describe the painful lesions on the inside of the mouth or on the lips. They can range in severity from uncomfortable to annoying to downright painful. Often certain foods or beverages or teeth brushing can exacerbate the pain. While mouth ulcers are typically harmless and clear up without medical or dental intervention, patients often look for ways to get rid of them faster or to prevent them in the first place.

No one knows for sure what causes most mouth ulcers and every patient can have different triggers. For some, stress or tissue injury can cause one or several ulcers. In other patients certain foods such as fruits that are high in acidic value, including lemons, oranges, figs, tomatoes, and strawberries. Additionally, a small cut or irritation caused by braces or dentures that don’t fit properly can cause ulcers to form. Finally, underlying health problems such as autoimmune diseases, a reaction to certain medications, oral thrush infection, and others. Still, some patients appear to get recurring ulcers for reasons that are not clear.

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Although it’s uncommon, mouth ulcers can lead to complications including bacterial infections, inflammation of the oral tissue, or an abscessed tooth. Most ulcers resolve by themselves in a few days; however, some ulcers caused by infection will require patients to seek out medical or dental treatment. Once an ulcer or cluster of ulcers has erupted, patients can’t make them go away faster, but they can manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

Treatment options include not eating spicy or acidic foods while the ulcers are active, drinking plenty of water, and using salt water to rinse the mouth. Further patients can use over-the-counter pain medication or use antiseptic gel and mouthwash to relieve the pain. Depending on the type of ulcer prescription medication may be needed to help manage the discomfort and ensure the infection is cleared.

For patients wishing to prevent mouth ulcers, dentists recommend good oral hygiene habits including brushing and flossing, eating a healthy diet, and managing other health and wellness issues. Dr. Dean Dietrich of Pleasant Dental® is committed to the oral health care of his patients in Illinois. Whether you’re suffering from a mouth ulcer or a toothache, Dr. Dietrich can help you find relief. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Pleasant Dental® office today.

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