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Understanding Mouth Ulcers

Every time when you are stressed or when you accidentally bite inside of your cheek, you develop a small open painful white sore with red border inside your cheeks. These sores are very painful and annoying. They cause discomfort while eating, drinking, and talking. Have you ever experienced a similar problem? If yes, you must read this article to know what exactly these painful sores are. These sores are called mouth ulcers, caused due to damage to the mucosal lining present inside the mouth or oral cavity. Even though very small, they can disrupt your daily activities. You may find it painful to eat or drink, even talking may become difficult.

Mouth image

What are mouth ulcers?

Redness Starts Appearing

  • Mild uneasiness

Slowly Starts Forming The Ulcer

  • Mild Pain
  • Slight discomfort while eating

Fully Formed Ulcer Exposing Nerves

  • Severe pain & burning
  • Extreme difficulty in eating
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Constant irritation

The mouth ulcers are the small lesions that are white, yellow or grey in color with a red border. These sores may be round or oval. These lesions can be observed on the inner lips or cheeks, gums or tongue. Due to the damage to the mucosal lining, the nerves below the surface of the mucosal lining are exposed and cause painful sensation.

These sores often start by themselves on exposure to an infection, stress, vitamin deficiency or due to an injury caused to mucosal lining by hard brushing or accidental bite. They often appear as a small bubble or blister initially, which then becomes an open and ulcerated pit resulting in severe pain.

These sores are medically known as aphthous stomata and oral mucositis.

The estimated point prevalence of oral ulcers worldwide is 4%, with aphthous ulcers being the most common, affecting as many as 25% of the population worldwide (Shulman JD, Beach MM, Rivera-Hidalgo F. The prevalence of oral mucosal lesions in U.S. adults: data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. J Am Dent Assoc. 2004;135:1279–86.) The overall prevalence of mouth ulcers in India is 21.7%, with patients in the third (20.7%) and fourth (26.5%) decades of their age most commonly affected. Females (56.3%) are more commonly affected than males (43.7%). (Reddy S N, Maheshwari S, Khandelwal S, Shruthi D, Doni B. Prevalence of recurrent aphthous ulceration in the Indian Population. J Clin Exp Dent. Feb 2014; 6(1): e36–e40.)

Mouth ulcers usually heal by themselves within 10 to 14 days. About 40% of people have recurrent mouth ulcers due to stress, hormonal imbalance or due to heredity. However, the cause for these ulcers is not clear. The mouth ulcer may occur either as a single sore or as multiple sores. As the ulcer appears as open sore or lesion, they increase the risk of secondary infection. If the mouth ulcers do not heal within 3 weeks then you must consult a doctor because these may be sign of oral cancer.