Diagnosis For Mouth Ulcers
You may not need to see your doctor about a mouth sore unless they are persistent, you have other symptoms, or you are feeling very unwell. Your doctor will take your personal and medical history and do a physical exam to look at your sores.
Your doctor may look to see if you have large white patches on the roof of your mouth to rule out an infection called thrush or for signs of other conditions.
Your dentist can also examine your mouth and diagnose your mouth ulcers during annual checkups and cleanings.
What Are Mouth Sores
Mouth sores are common ailments that affect many people at some point in their lives.
These sores can appear on any of the soft tissues of your mouth, including the lips, inside of your cheeks, gums, tongue, and floor and roof of your mouth.
Mouth sores, which include canker sores, are usually a minor irritation and last only 1 or 2 weeks. In some cases, they can indicate an infection from a virus, such as herpes simplex, or more severe causes, such as mouth cancer.
Sores in your mouth caused by a common or short-lasting condition such as:
- pemphigus vulgaris
Keep reading to learn about the causes and symptoms of mouth sores and how to recognize and get rid of them.
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More Tips For Dealing With Mouth Sores
Here are a few more things you can try at home that may help ease pain from mouth sores:
- Chew ice chips to help numb painful areas.
- Stop smoking or using tobacco products.
- Dab on an over-the-counter oral pain medication to ease discomfort.
- Limit or avoid spicy, salty, and acidic foods.
- Choose soft foods that dont require you to chew a lot.
- Make sure your food is not too hot or too cold.
- Pass up foods with sharp edges, such as chips, that could be painful to eat.
- Rinse your mouth often with cool water, a medicated rinse, saltwater, or baking soda solutions.
- Take care of your teeth and gums with good dental hygiene practices.
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What Foods Should You Avoid Or Eat
During the phase of acute inflammation, it’s helpful to avoid certain foods that can irritate the inflamed mucous membranes even more such as crispy or hard foods like bread rolls or crispbread . Very acidic, spicy or salty foods can also be unpleasant, as can fizzy drinks or alcohol. But you should still make sure that you dont eat too much of the same thing, or too little overall. Eating soups and soft foods can help to protect the mucous membranes. It’s also a good idea to let any food that you cook cool off enough or to eat cold meals.
If you think that certain foods or oral hygiene products are encouraging the development of canker sores, then try avoiding them. But there’s a lack of good research on whether a certain diet can delay the formation of new canker sores.
Is Treatment Always Necessary
If the symptoms are bearable, then treatment isnt needed. This is most likely the case for the more common minor canker sores: 85 out of 100 people who have canker sores have this type, which is the mildest. Minor canker sores are only a few millimeters wide, are painful for three to five days, and go away completely after about two weeks.
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How To Treat Mouth Ulcers
Mouth ulcers dont usually need to be treated, because they tend to clear up by themselves within a week or two.
However, treatment can help to reduce swelling and ease any discomfort. This may help if you keep getting mouth ulcers or your mouth ulcer affects eating and drinking.
Things you can do to speed up healing include:
- applying a protective paste recommended by your pharmacist
- using a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth
- using a toothpaste that doesnt contain sodium lauryl sulphate, as this may be irritating
- avoiding hard, spicy, salty, acidic or hot food and drink until the ulcer heals
- using a straw to drink cool drinks
- avoiding things that may be triggering your mouth ulcers see causes, below
You can get several types of mouth ulcer treatment from a pharmacy. Speak to your pharmacist about the best treatment for you. Options include the following:
Medicines from your dentist or GP
If necessary, you may be prescribed a course of stronger corticosteroids to help reduce pain and swelling, and speed up healing.
Corticosteroids are available on prescription as tablets, mouthwash, paste or spray, but are not suitable for children under 12.
Are Mouth Sores A Symptom Of Covid
Mouth ulcers and sores are prevalent on the mouth, including on the tongue and lips. Many illnesses and infections can lead to changes in the tongue’s surface, including an unexplained condition known as geographic tongue that can persist for months.
In September of 2020, researchers in Spain reported that around a quarter of patients in hospitals with COVID-19 experienced oral manifestations to their mouth or tongue.4
While this study of 666 patients was small and considered preliminary, health care providers may consider adding oral lesions to the list of symptoms linked to COVID-19.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover
Both canker sores and cold sores should clear up on their own within a week or two. Some medications may help to speed up the recovery process.
If you have a mouth sore that doesnt go away after two weeks, you should see your doctor.
While the exact cause of canker sores is uncertain, you can help prevent them by doing things such as protecting your mouth from injury, eating a healthy diet, and reducing stress.
Most canker sores will go away on their own in a week or two.
Cold sores are caused by HSV infection. Once you have the infection, you have the virus for your lifetime. Some people with HSV will never have cold sores while others will experience periodic outbreaks.
Cold sores should clear up on their own in a few weeks, although antiviral medications may speed healing. You should be particularly conscious to avoid skin-to-skin contact or the sharing of personal items when you have a cold sore, as this could spread the virus to others.
Interested In More Treatment And Prevention Tips
If you would like to learn more about oral health, dental treatments, and problems such as mouth ulcers, please visit our website. We can offer expert advice and excellent treatments that will make your mouth feel fresh and healthy.
We provide all kinds of oral health services and advice, dental check-ups and treatments, and cosmetic dentistry. Please feel free to read our blog which provides many tips on a wide range of dental related issues.
And finally, if you have any questions, whether urgent or simply curious, then please contact us via our website messaging service or by email or phone, details of which can be found on our contact page.
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When To See A Doctor Or Dentist
See a doctor or dentist about your mouth ulcers if you develop any of the following:
- unusually large mouth ulcers
A cold sore is another common type of oral lesion. Although mouth ulcers and cold sores share some causes and symptoms, its usually easy to tell the two apart.
Mouth ulcers only appear inside the mouth.
Although cold sores can appear inside the mouth, they mainly appear right above, below, or on your lips. They may also spread to the nose or chin. Cold sores are also fluid-filled, making them a type of blister.
Most mouth ulcers are not contagious. Cold sores are typically caused by the herpes virus and are always contagious.
Cold sores are also more likely to cause additional symptoms beyond the lesions, including:
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If youve scheduled an appointment with your healthcare provider, here are some questions you may want to ask:
- Is my mouth ulcer a canker sore?
- What could have caused it?
- Will you need to run tests?
- What are my treatment options?
- How can I manage my symptoms at home?
- How long until my canker sore goes away?
- Are there ways to reduce my risk for canker sores in the future?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Canker sores can be irritating, and theyre certainly inconvenient, but theyre not dangerous. Unlike cold sores, canker sores arent caused by infections and cant be spread from person to person. Most people find relief by using over-the-counter canker sore treatments. But if your symptoms dont improve after trying these products, you should talk to your healthcare provider. They can tell you how to get rid of canker sores so you can get back to normal life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/09/2022.
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What Are Canker Sores
Canker sores are a type of mouth ulcer. They are painful sores that appear on the inside of the mouthnamely, the inner lip, cheeks, gums, tongue, or palate. They can have a white or yellowish appearance with a red outer layer. Unlike cold sores, mouth ulcers are non-contagious and will generally heal without scarring in about a week or two. If you experience severe canker sores that do not get better, you can always consult with a medical doctor or dentist. These are some of the early signs and symptoms of canker sores:
- A tingling or burning sensation inside your mouth
- White or grey sores forming inside the mouth
- Feeling feverish
- Feeling physically unwell or sluggish
- Swollen lymph nodes
Early Symptoms Of Hiv
The first few weeks after someone contracts HIV is called the acute infection stage.
During this time, the virus reproduces rapidly. The persons immune system responds by producing HIV antibodies, which are proteins that take measures to respond against infection.
During this stage, some people have no symptoms at first. However, many people experience symptoms in the first month or so after contracting the virus, but they often dont realize HIV causes those symptoms.
This is because symptoms of the acute stage can be very similar to those of the flu or other seasonal viruses, such as:
- they may be mild to severe
- they may come and go
- they may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks
Early symptoms of HIV can include:
Because these symptoms are similar to common illnesses like the flu, the person who has them might not think they need to see a healthcare provider.
And even if they do, their healthcare provider might suspect the flu or mononucleosis and might not even consider HIV.
Whether a person has symptoms or not, during this period their viral load is very high. The viral load is the amount of HIV found in the bloodstream.
A high viral load means that HIV can be easily transmitted to someone else during this time.
Initial HIV symptoms usually resolve within a few months as the person enters the chronic, or clinical latency, stage of HIV. This stage can last many years or even decades with treatment.
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Pharmacy First Scotland: Mouth Ulcer Treatment From Your Pharmacy
If you have a mouth ulcer you can get advice and treatment directly from a pharmacy. Find your local pharmacy on Scotland’s Service Directory.
Mouth ulcers can be painful, which can make it uncomfortable to eat, drink or brush your teeth.
It’s usually safe to treat mouth ulcers at home, although your pharmacist may advise that yousee your GP or dentist if:
- your mouth ulcer has lasted three weeks
- you keep getting mouth ulcers
- your mouth ulcer becomes more painful or red this could be a sign of a bacterial infection, which may need treatment with antibiotics
Mouth ulcers are also a possible symptom of a viral infection that mainly affects young children, called hand, foot and mouth disease. Speak to your GP or call the NHS 24 service if you’re unsure.
Read about the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease.
Treating Mouth Ulcers In Babies And Children
Give your child pain relief medicine such as children’s paracetamol if they are in pain. Always follow the instructions on the packet.
Make sure your child is drinking enough fluids like water and milk. Try offering them cold drinks through a straw if their mouth is very sore.
Offer them cool, soft foods to eat. Rough foods like toast or cereal flakes might hurt their mouth.
Avoid acidic fruits and fruit juices. These can sting their mouth.
Offer your child frequent breastfeeds. If you are bottle feeding your baby, make sure you are using the correct bottle teat. This will help to avoid any trauma to the inside of your babys mouth.
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Who Can Get Mouth Ulcers
Anyone can get mouth ulcers, but women are more likely to develop mouth ulcers, especially while pregnant or during the menstrual cycle. While children can develop a mouth ulcer, most people develop them for the first time as a teenager or young adult.
People being treated with chemotherapy may develop mouth ulcers. It can range from some sores to severe inflammation, bleeding, and ulceration called mucositis.
What Can You Tell Me About Mouth Ulcers In Kids
Kids can develop mouth ulcers just like adults. You can manage symptoms by giving your child over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ice, popsicles or cold liquids may help soothe the area. If your child has a mouth ulcer that hasnt healed in two weeks, call your healthcare provider.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
While mouth ulcers usually arent dangerous, they can certainly be painful and inconvenient. Fortunately there are several mouth ulcer treatments and remedies that can ease your symptoms until your lesions heal.
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Improving Comfort And Healing
Drugs And Radiation Therapy
The most common drugs causing mouth sores include certain cancer chemotherapy drugs. Drugs containing gold, which were once used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and some other autoimmune disorders, can also cause mouth sores, but these drugs are rarely used because safer and more effective drugs are now available. Radiation therapy is also a common cause of mouth sores. Rarely, people may develop mouth sores after taking antibiotics.
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Good Mouth Care And Mouth Rinses
Good mouth care is key to help reduce the risk or severity of mouth sores. Using a soft toothbrush or foam swab can help keep the mouth clean and reduce the risk of injuring your gums and lining of the mouth. If you use dental floss, ask your doctor if you should stop or if you can continue to floss.
Certain types of rinses can help to keep your mouth clean and can help soothe discomfort. Ask your doctor which type of rinse may be best for your situation. For example, baking soda, salt water, or saline rinses might be recommended. Mouth rinses with antibiotic agents or steroids might be recommended, depending on how severe the mouth sores are.
Benzydamine may help prevent mouth sores in people getting radiation treatment to the mouth or throat. Morphine rinses may help relieve pain from mouth sores in this same group of people. Dexamethasone has been used in mouth rinses to help with cleansing and discomfort.
Another type of mouth rinse, often referred to as magic mouthwash might be recommended by your doctor. Magic mouthwash is a mixed medication mouthwash that combines a few different medicines. But, there is not one single combination thats used by all doctors, and some experts dont recommend a combination. Some common ingredients of magic mouthwash include diphenhydramine, viscous lidocaine, aluminum hydroxide, nystatin, and corticosteroids.
Check If It’s A Mouth Ulcer
Mouth ulcers are usually small, creamy-white and appear on the:
- inside of the mouth
These types of mouth ulcers are known as canker sores .
You may have more than one ulcer at a time and they can change in size.
Mouth ulcers are not contagious. But sometimes they are a symptom of a contagious illness.
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