Agonizing Mouth Sores: 7 Causes with Foolproof Treatments

Oral ulcers, stomatitis, and mouth sores are some of the most common health issues affecting adults and children. These lesions, which can form on the lips, gums, the roof of the mouth, the inner cheeks, or the tongue, are very painful and, therefore, disturb talking, eating, or drinking. 

Unlike most mouth sores that are not dangerous and clear up on their own within a short time of 1 week or two weeks, some may be warning symptoms of specific health problems that require a doctor’s attention. 

This comprehensive guide will explore what causes mouth sores, discuss treatment options, and provide pictures to help you distinguish between the various types.

6. Mouth Sores

1. Causes of Mouth Sores:

1.1. Trauma:

Unplanned bites and instability in the mouth, which complex objects or orthodontic appliances can cause, are the leading causes of trauma to the delicate tissues that can give rise to ulcers. For instance, if an individual nibbles the tip of their tongue, an inside of the cheek or lip would immediately and, at times, inevitably turn into a sore. 

Moreover, sleeping with poorly fitted dental appliances or getting the gums accidentally scraped by a toothbrush could also be the causes of the trauma that ultimately leads to ulcer formation. Injuries that may seem trivial can cause you significant pain and an even greater risk of infection not being done correctly.

1.2. Infections:

Infections, viral, bacterial, or fungal, can affect lips or cheeks and ultimately result in ulcers. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) has its signature symptom: oral lesions on or around the mouth, known as cold sores or fever blisters. 

Coxsackievirus, or hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD), is one of the common infections. It can cause ulcers in the mouth with a spread-out rash-like lesion on the hands, feet, and buttocks. Conditions caused by fungal pieces like oral thrush (candidiasis), when Candida bacteria grow in a source of moisture, are the white patches or lesions on the tongue, cheeks, or the top of the mouth.

1.3. Immune System Disorders:

An even condition like lupus, Behçet’s disease, or inflammatory bowel disease can generate recurrent mouth ulcers due to immune system malfunction. Lupus and Behçet’s disease are autoimmune disautoimmunehich immune systems mistakenly attack healthy tissues, causing inflammation and ulcer formation in the mouth, among other things. 

Analogous cases with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, may be unable to prevent the development of ulcers, again involving mucous membranes and inhibiting their function.

1.4. Nutritional Deficiencies:

Lack of essential vitamins B12, iron, and folate can cause K consultation sores to emerge. They are among the most valuable resources since they boost the immune system, promote the healthy condition of the gums, and so on. 

A vitamin B12 deficiency causes pernicious anaemia, which manifests itself as overall fatigue, weakness, and mouth ulcers. Thus, the state of health is closely connected to food intake. 

Another instance traceable to nutritional deficiency is iron deficiency anaemia, which is harmful to the tongue (e.g., glossitis). In the same way, a deficiency of folate, a vitamin of the B complex, decreases the integrity of the oral mucosa and causes other changes.

Shallow Focus Photo of Woman in White and Black Stripe Shirt
Image Source: Pexels

1.5. Allergic Reactions:

Some foods, medications, or oral care products could directly cause mouth ulcer allergies. In some instances, such allergic reactions could be induced in the mouth. Typical food allergens are soybeans, seafood, lemons, and other citrus fruits; some drugs like antibiotics and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs); and oral hygiene products, like shampoos, soap, and toothpaste, which contain such ingredients as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). 

Allergic reactions can manifest as oral symptoms, including swelling, reddening, itching, and the development of sores or blisters in the mouth.

1.6. Hormonal Changes:

Hormonal fluctuations, especially before the period or the process following pregnancy, can enhance the inborn navigation to ulcers of the mouth. Hormonal changes can lead to a lowered immune system and an increased risk of oral mucosa ulcers, which can be exacerbated during certain phases of the menstrual cycle or pregnancy. 

Hormonal changes may also be responsible for triggering episodes of the herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores or canker sores. Such a phenomenon is characterized by more frequent outbreaks or extended healing periods.

1.7. Chronic Diseases:

Unlike acute medical conditions that cause the mouth to become ulcerated, chronic conditions such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS often weaken the immune system, which in turn makes individuals more susceptible to oral ulcerations. Diabetes, mainly if it is poorly controlled, causes the body to be weakened and makes it harder to fight infections.

Due to this, wounds take longer to heal, and oral complications such as gum disease and mouth ulcers increase in likelihood. Like HIV/AIDS, which compromises the immune system, this puts individuals at risk of causing other infections like oral candidiasis (thrush), leading to sores in the mouth. 

Further, drugs given to those with ongoing conditions are often one of the causes of mouth ulcers when they are side effects. The risk is, therefore, increased.

A Man Performing Oral Examination
Image Source: Pexels

2. Treatment Options for Mouth Sores:

2.1. Over-the-Counter Remedies:

  • Pain Relief: Anesthetic oral analgesics such as ibuprofen, or in some cases, local anaesthetic agents, can decrease mouth sore pain. The process involves eating healthy, nutrient-dense meals, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Antiseptic Mouthwashes: Rinsing the mouth with antiseptic mouthwash that contains compounds such as chlorhexidine or hydrogen peroxide can be effective at getting their oral health back on track and preventing infections.
  • Topical Treatments: Additionally, countertop or topical gels or creams containing benzocaine and lidocaine can temporarily relieve pain and discomfort.

2.2. Prescription Medications:

  • Antiviral Drugs: Prescriptive antiviral medications can be prescribed for palpable colds and recurring herpes simplex virus manifestations.
  • Corticosteroids: In severe cases of canker sores, oral or topical steroid therapy may be prescribed, as it reduces inflammation and promotes healing.
  • Antifungal Medications: In this scenario, oral thrush or mouth yeast infections may require antifungal treatment that eventually clears the infection.
  • Immunosuppressants: Because of the autoimmune symptoms in mouth ulcers, immunosuppressive drugs can help moderate the immune response and improve lesion control.

2.3. Home Remedies:

  • Saltwater Rinse: Gargling with warm salt water triggers the mouth sores’ discomfort and produces a healing environment for them to heal quickly by reducing inflammation and preventing infection.
  • Honey: The healing properties of raw honey may support the healing process by applying it directly to the ulcers in the mouth.
  • Vitamin Supplements: Consuming nutritional supplements containing iron, folate, and vitamin B12 can treat nutrient deficiency related to mouth ulcers.

2.4. Lifestyle Modifications:

  • Avoiding Trigger Foods: Recognizing and avoiding the foods that make the ulcers worse—for instance, acidic and spicy ones—should also be avoided, which will almost certainly suggest the absence of recurrence.
  • Good Oral Hygiene: One of the most crucial health care measures is brushing at least twice daily, flossing, and using alcohol-free mouthwash. These practices help avoid infections and prevent the appearance of mouth ulcers.
  • Stress Management: Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can be valuable tools for reducing stress levels, which could be triggering or aggravating factors.
Mouth sores causing pain
Image Source: Pexels

3. Common Mouth Sores:

3.1. Cold Sores (Herpes Labialis):

In cold sores, also termed fever blisters, the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) is responsible for the emergence of blisters with fluid elements on or around the lip area. Such calluses are aching and can get annoying as they spread before being displayed physically. The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores and is readily subject to contact through close interaction, like mouth-to-mouth contact or sharing utensils. 

Factors such as stress, illness, sunlight exposure, and hormonal changes can be considered the common predisposing triggers for the outbreaks of cold sores in that particular group of susceptible individuals. 

While there is no cure for the herpes virus, antiviral drugs can effectively minimize the disease symptoms and the number of outbreaks.

3.2. Canker Sores (Aphthous Ulcers):

Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are characterized by shallow, round, or oval-shaped sores inside the mouth with a yellow or white centre and a red border. This kind of ulcerative lesion is usually located in the innermost part of the mouth and can be seen on the tongue, across the mucosa of the inner cheeks, or on the gums. In contrast, canker sores are non-contagious and not transmitted via infectious viruses. 

Interestingly enough, the roots of canker sores remain unravelled; however, factors like trauma, stress, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, and disorders of the immune system are assumed to be the factors in their formation. 

Generally, canker sores get better without any treatment within one or two weeks, but medication sold over the counter or prescribed can help quickly ease the pain and speed up the healing.

3.3. Oral Thrush (Candidiasis):

Oral thrush is precipitated by the Candida fungi, which show as white lesions in the tongue, inner cheeks, or the ceiling of the mouth. They are usually itchy and hurt whenever you rub or scratch them.

Wounds may also bleed if they are scratched. Candidiasis of the oral cavity is persistent in babies, older adults, and people whose immune systems are weakened. 

Certain factors, including antibiotics, corticosteroids, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and poor oral hygiene, may increase the probability of infection. The remedy usually consists of antifungal medications, such as oral rinses or tablets, to treat the fungal infection and reduce the symptoms.

3.4. Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease:

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a viral fungal infection in children usually caused by enteroviruses, especially the Coxsackievirus. The infection is at this moment described by small, sharp, painful sores or blisters that appear in the mouth, on the hands, feet, and, in some cases, on the buttocks. 

Other symptoms like fever, throat soreness, and rash are not ruled out. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is highly contagious, and people get it by close contact with another infected person or by contact with dirty floors, surfaces, or objects.

Usually, hand-foot-and-mouth disease does not require any specific treatment, as only supportive care such as painkillers and topical handling for mouth sores can help relieve symptoms and make the person more comfortable during the illness.

3.5. Behçet’s Disease:

Behçet’s disease is a chronic autoimmune maniautoimmunewith autoimmune ulceautoimmunel ulcers, uveitis, and skin lesions in the anterior portion of the eye. Behçet’s disease genesis remains elucidated, but the complex interaction of hereditary, environmental, and immune factors is thought to play a significant role. 

Behçet’s disease may trigger any organ system’s involvement, causing many symptoms and comorbidity. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms, relieve inflammation, and avoid complications that may occur.

This usually requires using drugs such as corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and biologics. Lifestyle changes and periodic checks by healthcare professionals are also crucial for managing Behçet`s disease.

4. Conclusion

Mouth ulcers are painful, and you should be equipped with knowledge of what causes them and proper treatment to ensure that most of these cases are controlled successfully. Though mouth ulcers usually heal within a week to two weeks, those that continue for longer or are recurrent may require medical interventions to rule out the risk of severe health conditions. 

Through regular dental care, avoidance of food triggers, and timely medical attention whenever required, patients can achieve the relief they need and prevent the severe conditions typically associated with mouth lesions. However, if something seems wrong or becomes more frequent or severe, a doctor should be contacted for a professional diagnosis and treatment.

Last Updated on by AnoushkaRoy

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