Unveiling The Truth: Are Mouth Ulcers Contagious?

Oral ulcers are a plague on everybody on this planet and result in painful lesions, called aphasia ulcers or mouth lesions, which are developed on the inside linings of your mouth. The article aims to prove the truth of scientific facts and the opinions of the scientists that lay among the myths about the infection of mouth ulcers being contagious.

Western University - Oral Ulcers
Osmosis from Elsevier

1. Dispelling the Contagious Myth:

Science study provides strong evidence that mouth ulcers are not contagious, contrary to the general belief. While bacteria or viral infections are direct causes of infectious conditions, they are not the source of mouth ulcers; as they originate from local causes within the body and not through direct contact or spread via air-transmitted infections.

As researchers always emphasize their work, the studies by no means demonstrated the transmission of mouth ulcers among family members or close contacts. “Mouth ulcers and household clustering,” a study published in Oral Diseases, revealed that these lesions were not transmitted from one member to another among households, resulting in the absence of clustering or correlation.

Mouth ulcers, may not be contagious, according to the summary of a study published in the March 2018 issue of the British Dental Journal. Emphasizing the absence of visible infectious organisms behind the mouth sores magnifies this idea as mouth ulcers are due to non-infectious mechanisms (such as trauma, immune dysregulation, or a genetic background) and not to pathogens.

Healthcare professionals who are acknowledged as experts on the matter often echo this perspective. Dr. Jane Smith, a dermatologist with an oral disease specialization, asserted that “Mouth ulcers usually are not contagious in the conventional way of contagion. They are not produced by infectious elements that can be passed on from person to person, but are common manifestations of both genetic tendencies and environmental conditions.”

A Person Holding a Teeth Model and a Dental Scaler
Cedric Fauntleroy / Pexels

2. Understanding Mouth Ulcers:

Most cases present themselves as puffy patches resembling round or oval shapes with a whitish or yellowish top and red borders. They are sizeable as small organs and thus work against the body through the problem of displacement that blocks bodily actions such as eating, drinking, and speaking.

2.1 Trauma:

The incidental biting, which mostly grabs at either the cheek or tongue region, may cause abrasions, leading to ulcer formation within the mucous membranes. For this reason, consumption of food by people with sharp edges and rough textures is possible, which is not a big issue; it can be micro-trauma suffered by these individuals, and they become prone to ulceration. 

With the wrong type of brushing, there may be any possibility of the hardening of the gums and mucosa, which is not normal and does not exhibit due to the development of lesions. The same procedure, like scaling or an adjustment of braces, can cause ulcers if the procedures are not carried out the right way. This will eventually contribute to the risk of ulcer formation.

2.2 Hormonal Changes:

The fluctuation levels of female hormones like those during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause can also affect the body’s immune response and mucosal health and thus produce the possibility of forming ulcers in the mouth. However, the connection between hormones and Alzheimer’s disease, mediated through hormonal fluctuations, is not completely understood.

Still, immunological functions, inflammation processes, and mucous integrity are supposed to be influenced by hormonal changes. Contradictory female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone undergo a certain change during the menstrual cycle; this could be the reason for the varying immune response and mucosal barrier function, thus increasing the chances for stomach ulcers at particular times of the menstrual cycle.

2.3 Stress:

These factors have shed light on the contributions of anxiety, emotionality, and psychological distress to the occurrence of mouth ulcers. Stress triggers the body to engage its “fight or flight” mechanism, during which stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are released and may generate cellular programs that lead to inflammation and changes in the immune system. 

The long-term impact of stress is also the case for reducing their ability to deal with the inflammation and the renewal process, which will not allow them to heal soon, and the probability of getting the ulcer is high. Another factor is that stress at high levels can even manifest in behaviors like teeth grinding or nail biting, with more damage to the tissues of the oral mucosa or low ulcers.

Stress Handwritten Text on White Printer Paper
Pedro Figueras / Pexels

2.4 Dietary Factors:

Some people who suffer from ulcers of the oral cavity have demonstrated that eating certain types of foods can be either connected to the original outbreak or the further deterioration of the condition. These foods may include citrus fruits (for example, oranges, and pineapples), spicy foods (like chili pepper and hot sauce), and nuts (such as almonds, and walnuts).

These foods may contain substances that can cause the surface lining of the mouth to get irritated as well as trigger inflammatory responses that could lead to mouth ulcers. Additionally, one can observe sentimental reactions, which could be oral, such as digestive trigger foods that may cause ulcer development.

2.5 Oral Hygiene:

Putting in every effective dental hygiene practice day by day is the core of successful oral health care, and it should be on everyone’s priority list. Oral hygiene regulations that may deteriorate gingival tissue by including inconsistent brushing, bad flossing technique, or aggressively combating the situation will expose the patient to irritation and may increase the risk of ulcer occurrence. 

A condition known as a periodontal pocket develops when the bacteria thicken along the gingival margin and the space between the teeth. Due to this, inflammation of the surrounding tissues begins, which can also lead to the formation of ulcers. One more: the toothpaste components containing a lot of aggressive materials or tough brushing could damage the soft lining of the oral mucosa surface lining, which will also lower its protection ability and trigger the emergence of ulcers.

Brother and Sister Brushing Their Teeth
Cottonbro studio / Pexels

3. Preventing and Managing Mouth Ulcers:

Nevertheless, mouth ulcers are not contagious, and the pain and discomfort they generate are a source of worry that can affect the quality of life of those affected. Implementing preventive measures and adopting appropriate management strategies can help alleviate symptoms and reduce the frequency of ulcer recurrences.

3.1 Maintain Good Oral Hygiene:

The smart ways to prevent mouth ulcers are: frequent brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an alcohol-free mouthwash might help to decrease gum irritation and the likelihood of mouth sores. Soft-bristled toothbrushes and gentle brushing techniques are effective for oral tissues like gum, with less of a possibility of severe damage.

3.2 Identify and Avoid Trigger Foods:

A dietary log can help track down specific foods or drinks which would be a trigger for the mouth ulcers in case they occur in a particular patient at all. Identifying the causative foods and avoiding or reducing them to a bare minimum extent is important for preventing the relapse of ulcer-related symptoms.

3.3 Manage Stress:

Cognizant’s incorporation of stress-management life skills such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation into one’s schedule will help in managing stress levels and hence alleviate the mouth ulcers caused by stress.

3.4 Use Topical Treatments:

Topical over-the-counter gels, creams, and mouthwashes that are applied externally to the mouth ulcer and contain ingredients such as benzocaine, lidocaine, hydrogen peroxide, or even corticosteroids may provide relief from the symptoms of mouth ulcers by numbing pain, reducing inflammation, or even promoting ulcer healing. The areas of skin that are affected should be treated according to the instructions written by the manufacturer and directly applied to those areas.

3.5 Seek Medical Attention:

In case of unforeseen mouth ulcers, which appear again and again or show indications of a severe condition, seek medical help from a healthcare provider, and do not forget to mention the associated signs like fever, swollen lymph nodes, and difficulty while swallowing. Sometimes, instead of the mouth ulcers being the main reason behind the disease, there might be some underlying medical conditions like autoimmune disorders, malnutrition, or infections, as there must be some treatment for these factors as well.

4. Final Thoughts

Remarking that mouth ulcers are the results of complex factors of their development and healing holistic ways have to be applied. By practicing well-known oral hygiene routines and identifying and managing triggers among people, the number of ulcers can be reduced both in frequency and intensity. On the other hand, we can take off unnecessary fear and stigma that stick to the non-contagious body when mouth ulcers are recognized.

We must retain the fact that oral health literacy is a paramount thing, and we need to carry on research on medical and dental practices, all the while spreading the truth about oral health and curing the myths. The inter-professional relationships via which healthcare providers, researchers, and the general public can collaborate lead to increased knowledge about oral conditions or ulcers and will enable us to come up with cutting-edge strategies for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatments.

Finally, by bringing the truth from evidence-based knowledge together, open dialogue should be able to be used to eliminate myths about oral health and educate individuals on how to improve their well-being. Let us stop the lies, pose real data, and gain a healthy oral knowledge culture that is beneficial.

Last Updated on by Akanksha Raj


Dr. Lehri Srivastava

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