Mouth ulcers, also known as “canker sores” or aphthous stomatitis, are a very painful type of lesion that appear regularly in about 20% of the population. They occur on the soft inner linings of the mouth as opposed to the outside of the lips. Ulcers can erupt individually or you may have many at one time, forming a “crop” of ulcers. Each ulcer will look like a break in the skin that is usually reddened at the edges and white or grayish in the center.
No one really knows exactly why people get oral ulcers – they can be brought on by stress, a trauma to the mouth, triggered by certain foods, or even hypersensitivity to ingredients in toothpaste. The most important part of prevention is to avoid those things that seem to trigger your ulcers.
Unfortunately, even with the best preventive efforts you are still likely to get a really bad flareup once in a while. What can you do to make them feel better?
• Have patience. Most ulcers only last about ten days, and you can ease their pain with an over-the-counter anesthetic gel like Anbesol.
• Swish with salt water or a prepared saline solution.
• Take ibuprofen if you have multiple ulcers and your pain is intense.
• For prevention, avoid most regular toothpastes that foam. They contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Look for SLS-free instead.
• Hold ice on the ulcer for a few minutes, or maybe just treat yourself to a bowl of ice cream.
• Try a little bit of over-the-counter antihistamine syrup (Benadryl) mixed with equal parts of a coating agent (Maalox).
• Use a product specifically designed to create a barrier over the ulcer, such as Colgate’s Orabase.
Dr. Rossen’s office also offers a gentle in-office laser treatment for the most severe ulcers that can decrease healing time by half. This is accomplished by guiding an uninitiated (cool) laser tip just above the surface of the ulcer, which helps to seal off the nerve endings and promote faster wound closure. If you have any questions about this or any other treatments we provide, please give us a call at 469-656-7265. We’d love to get you back on the road to a pain-free mouth soon!