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Mouth Ulcers/Canker Sores, why we get them and how to treat them

Mouth ulcers are also known as canker sores, aphthous ulcers, recurrent aphthous stomatitis and oral ulcers. For the purpose of this article and our predominantly South African readership, we will refer to them as mouth ulcers. It has affected people all around the world. These ulcers may be small but can make your life very uncomfortable and excruciating when you are eating, drinking, speaking or even swallowing.

Mouth Ulcers occur in the mouth cavity. It can appear in the inner surface of the lips and cheeks, at the base of the gums the tongue and the soft palate. Mouth Ulcers can be one or many at the same time.

Mouth Ulcers can occur on someone as young as 10 and upwards in age. Usually, but not always, they become less frequent and less severe. It is interesting that women find they are more susceptible to Mouth Ulcers forming during certain times of their menstrual cycle. Pregnant women find that they are not susceptible to Mouth Ulcers during their pregnancy.

Not everyone gets Mouth Ulcers in the same way. Some will find that they get Mouth Ulcers once or twice a year, while others get them at regular intervals.

The most common symptoms for Mouth Ulcers are:
• A tender red spot or bump that becomes an open ulcer.
• In the centre of the ulcer it is white or yellow.
• The usual size is under 1cm but it can be larger.

Mouth Ulcers are sometimes mistaken for cold sores or fever blisters. They are tender, irritating and recurring but they are definitely not the same thing.

Below you will see what the difference is between a Mouth Ulcer and a Cold Sore.

Mouth Ulcers
1. Only appears inside the mouth
2. It is not contagious at all
3. It is not caused by a virus
4. Is caused by damage to the oral tissue through the sodium lauryl sulphate which is the
foaming agent present in almost all toothpastes

Cold Sores
1. Usually appears on the outside of the mouth, occasionally is will appear on the inside of the mouth on a
hard surface like the palate
2. It is very contagious
3. It is caused by a virus
4. It appears as small blisters which are known as vesicles

What causes the Mouth Ulcers?

The soap (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) found in most toothpastes

Research has found that certain chemical compounds trigger the production of the Mouth Ulcers. This chemical compound is present in most toothpaste and is commonly known as soap. Yes, toothpaste contains soap.
Oral care manufacturers have been using soap (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) to create the foam when you are brushing your teeth. The interesting fact here is that the soap actually has no benefit. It does not mean that your mouth is cleaner when the soap foams while you are brushing.

However some people are more susceptible to get microscopic trauma or a membrane disrupting in the skin cells in the mouth because of the harshness of the chemical Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Together with trauma of the immune system, it may lead to Mouth Ulcer formation.

Studies were done at the University of Oslo in Oslo by doctors Barvoll and Brokstad that revealed that there was a 60-70% reduction in the number of Mouth Ulcers in the patients who had used a SLS-free toothpaste during a three month trial period. Since then more promising results were found on ongoing studies.

The studies showed that the SLS toothpaste causes the loss of the skin layer inside the mouth. By this discovery they concluded that SLS contributes to the Mouth Ulcers forming because it causes injury to the skin cells which line the inside of the mouth.

SLS can also disturb the protective layer of mucus that lines the inside of the mouth by denaturing the mucus proteins. So due to the denaturing of the mucus proteins in the mouth it makes the cells lining the mouth more vulnerable to injury and thus the formation of a Mouth Ulcer.

Therabreath Tootpaste contains no Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

Common causes of Mouth Ulcers

• Allergies due to food products as well as certain preservatives
• The trauma caused from brushing your teeth too vigorously
• From biting your lips
• If you have stress
• Trauma caused from eating hard foods such as pretzels and potato chips
• If you have vitamin B12, iron and folic acid deficiencies

The current theory is that Mouth Ulcers are formed because of the immune system that attacks the cells that line the inside of the mouth.

Below are some ways to treat Mouth Ulcers and some home remedies

A Mouth Ulcer and the pain associated with it usually only lasts 10-12days. Your could either do nothing and ride out the Mouth Ulcer and the pain till it eventually disappears or you could try some over the counter medicines or even try some home remedies to help ease the pain. Using Therabreath oral care products will ensure that your oral environment is not conducive to the production of mouth ulcers.

Home remedies to treat Mouth Ulcers

• You could try swirling salt that’s been dissolved in warm water around in your mouth for pain relief.
• Mix together half measures of Hydrogen Peroxide and Milk of Magnesia. This mixture when applied to the Mouth Ulcer with a swob will sooth the sore. The mixture must be applied three to four times a day.
• You could also try mixing one half of Benadryl to one half Milk of Magnesia. Swish this mixture around in your mouth for about a minute. When you finished swishing the mixture, spit it out. Please do not swallow it.

Treatments over the counter for Mouth Ulcers

• For the instant relief and to numb the pain use products that are intended for oral pain relief. Make sure they contain benzocaine.
• If your pharmacy has “Friars balsam” (a very old remedy) dad a small amount directly onto the sore. This stings like hell but will sort it out.
• Pain pills such as ibuprofen, aspirin and even acetaminophen can be used for the pain.
• Carbamide peroxide solutions release oxygen on contact with the ulcer. By doing this you not only clean the sore, but its antibacterial properties offers pain relief.

Doctor prescribed treatments for Mouth Ulcers

If the Mouth Ulcer does not go away on its own or through using over the counter medicine, go see your doctor and he/she can prescribe alternative medication. For example:

• Silver Nitrate will provide you with fast relief and healing. The medical provider usually applies it, but there are silver nitrate sticks available on the internet. Silver nitrate has a burnt taste, but the pain will disappear within a few hours and the sore within a few days.
• Debacterol which is a combination of sulfonated phenolic compounds and sulphuric acid which chemically burns the ulcer. It works similar to silver nitrate, but you do need a prescription for it.
• The doctor can also provide various antibiotics as well as corticosteroids. They all provide rapid paid relief and they reduce the healing time for Mouth Ulcers on the tongue.

Which form of Mouth Ulcer relief is the right one for you?

The healing of the Mouth Ulcer will depend on the severity of the sore and the pain tolerance. If you have a Mouth Ulcer on your tongue it is very difficult to be able to eat even the softest of foods and for this reason it is imperative that you try to get rid of it as soon as possible. Once again the choice is yours if you want to try home remedies first or if you want to use more aggressive medication to get rid of the sore quicker. As you can see there are a number of options for you to choose from to relieve pain and suffering of a Mouth Ulcer quickly and easily.

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Please send us a message or call us on 010 492 7370 or 076 422 5456 in an emergency.

Please send us a message or call us on 010 492 7370 or 076 422 5456 in an emergency.

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