How your teeth develop in your lifetime

Mouth ulcers: causes and solutions

You’ve probably suffered from a mouth ulcer at some point – and when you have one, you know about it. Mouth ulcers are sores that form in the mouth and they can be very painful. They’re sensitive to the touch and often cause a sharp, stinging pain.

Ulcers are clearly defined, usually oval-shaped and often react to the tiniest facial movements, making eating, talking and even smiling a painful ordeal. But where do they come from, and how do we get rid of them?


Mouth ulcers are very common. While they can sometimes point to an infection, anyone can get them no matter how healthy they are. The exact cause of common recurrent ulcers is difficult to pinpoint, but there are contributing factors that increase the likelihood of getting one:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Oral trauma, such as biting the inside of your mouth by accident
  • Hormonal changes – it is not unusual for some women to develop ulcers during their period
  • Smoking, which can irritate the mouth and cause them, while a temporary reaction to quitting smoking is an increased chance of ulcers
  • A deficiency in vitamin B12 – affects the production of red blood cells, leading to ulcers. An iron deficiency will have a similar effect
  • Crohn’s disease, which causes inflammation of the gut, leading to ulcers in the mouth and the stomach


The good news is that ulcers heal naturally, but the bad news is this takes time. However, there are methods to relieve the pain while you wait.

Careful brushing: Bristles on an ulcer can be very painful so be extra careful when brushing. It’s worth avoiding hard foods as well.

Lifestyle: If stress is the cause, then adopting a less stressful lifestyle is advisable, and learning a few relaxation techniques can help.

Medication: If the ulcer is particularly bad, then medication is available to reduce the pain. Some mouthwashes are specially medicated to treat ulcers, although you should always check that you are not allergic to any of the active ingredients first. A good alternative is to rinse your mouth with warm, salty water.

Medicated gels can also be applied to the affected area. These gels will numb the area and provide relief. It will also protect the ulcer, allowing it to heal without further irritation.

If you have any concerns about mouth ulcers or other dental issues, make an appointment with your Portman dentist.