Oral Ulcer / Mouth Ulcer
An oral ulcer, also known as a mouth ulcer, is a sore that forms on the inside of the mouth, often on the gums, inner cheeks, tongue, or lips. These ulcers can be painful and can make eating and talking difficult. They are usually round or oval in shape and have a white or yellow center with a red border.
There are several possible causes of oral ulcers, including injury to the mouth, ill-fitting dentures, gum disease, a viral infection, or an underlying medical condition such as Crohn's disease or Behcet's disease. Some people may also develop oral ulcers as a side effect of medication.
If you have an oral ulcer that is painful, lasts for more than two weeks, or is associated with other symptoms such as a fever, you should see a doctor.
Causes of Oral Ulcer
Oral ulcers can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Injury: Trauma to the mouth, such as from biting the cheek, brushing teeth too hard, or dental procedures, can cause oral ulcers.
Infections: Viral infections, such as herpes simplex, can cause oral ulcers.
Immunological disorders: Certain autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn's disease and Behcet's disease, can cause oral ulcers.
Nutritional deficiencies: A deficiency in vitamins, such as B12 or folic acid, can lead to oral ulcers.
Hormonal changes: Oral ulcers can be a symptom of hormonal changes during menstruation or pregnancy.
Certain medications: Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and chemotherapy drugs, can cause oral ulcers as a side effect.
Allergic reactions: Allergic reactions to certain foods, dental materials, or cosmetics can cause oral ulcers.
Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders, can cause oral ulcers.
Diagnosis of oral ulcer
The tests that are done to diagnose the cause of an oral ulcer will depend on the individual case and the suspected underlying cause. However, some common tests that may be done include:
Physical examination: Your doctor will examine your mouth and ask about your symptoms and medical history to help diagnose the cause of your oral ulcer.
Blood tests: Blood tests can help determine if you have a deficiency in vitamins or minerals, an autoimmune disorder, or another underlying medical condition.
Biopsy: In some cases, a small sample of tissue from the oral ulcer may be taken for examination under a microscope to help diagnose the cause.
Culture test: A culture test may be done to determine if a bacterial or fungal infection is causing the oral ulcer.
Virus test: A blood test may be done to determine if a viral infection, such as herpes simplex, is causing the oral ulcer.
Allergy test: An allergy test may be done to determine if an allergy is causing the oral ulcer.
Imaging tests: Imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI, may be done to help diagnose certain medical conditions that can cause oral ulcers, such as a gastrointestinal disorder.
Your doctor will use the results of these tests to determine the cause of your oral ulcer and develop an appropriate treatment plan. In some cases, more than one test may be needed to diagnose the cause of the oral ulcer.
Treatment of Oral Ulcers
The treatment for oral ulcers will depend on the underlying cause. Some common treatments include:
Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can help relieve the pain associated with oral ulcers.
Antiviral medications: If a viral infection is causing the oral ulcer, antiviral medications may be prescribed.
Corticosteroids: In some cases, corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain.
Vitamin and mineral supplements: If a deficiency in vitamins or minerals is causing the oral ulcer, supplements may be recommended.
Mouthwashes and topical gels: Mouthwashes and topical gels that contain a numbing agent or a mild steroid may be recommended to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Changes in medication: If the oral ulcer is a side effect of a medication you are taking, your doctor may recommend a change in medication.
Avoiding triggers: If an allergy or certain foods are causing the oral ulcer, avoiding these triggers may help reduce the frequency and severity of the ulcers.
Dental appliances: In some cases, dental appliances, such as a night guard or a new set of dentures, may be recommended to reduce trauma to the mouth.
It's important to see a doctor if you have persistent or painful oral ulcers, or if you have any other symptoms along with your ulcers, such as a fever. Your doctor will be able to determine the cause of your ulcers and recommend the appropriate treatment.