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Understanding The Leading Reasons For Mouth Ulcers

  • Mouth ulcers, or aphthous ulcers, are small, benign, painful sores in the mouth’s soft tissues.
  • Common causes include stress, injury to the mouth, diet, allergies, and certain medical conditions.
  • Prevention strategies include managing stress, avoiding injuries, regulating diet, managing allergies, and assessing underlying medical conditions.
  • Additional prevention tactics include replacing missing teeth, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and using an antimicrobial oral rinse before sleeping.
  • Despite the discomfort, understanding and managing the causes of mouth ulcers can help prevent future occurrences.

Mouth ulcers or canker sores are one of the most uncomfortable and painful experiences people might have. They usually form inside the mouth as inflamed spots or lesions that make it hard to eat or speak appropriately without feeling a sharp, stabbing pain. Mouth ulcers usually go away independently, but understanding their causes can help prevent future occurrences. Here’s what you need to know about mouth ulcers, their reasons, and how to avoid them.

What Are Mouth Ulcers?

Mouth ulcers, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small, benign sores in the mouth’s soft tissues, including the lips, cheeks, and the base of the gums. These non-contagious lesions may appear individually or in clusters and are generally characterized by a red border with a white or yellowish film in the center.

While they can be painful and cause discomfort while eating, drinking, or talking, they are usually harmless and tend to heal within one to two weeks. The exact cause of mouth ulcers is unclear. But here are some known reasons for it:

Stressed woman at work

1. Stress

Stress can take a toll on your body, and your mouth are no exception. Stress can cause your immune system to weaken, which can trigger oral health conditions such as mouth ulcers. In some cases, stress can cause mouth ulcers to reappear or become more frequent. In extreme cases, stress can lead to more severe mouth ulcers that require medical attention. To prevent mouth ulcers caused by stress, find ways to manage stress levels, such as exercise, relaxation, or meditation.

2. Injury

Injury to the mouth, such as biting your tongue or lip, can cause mouth ulcers. These injuries can result in inflammation and, if left untreated, can develop into more severe mouth ulcers. To prevent mouth ulcers caused by injury, be cautious when eating or drinking, avoid biting your nails or lips, and avoid chewy or tough foods that might cause injuries.

3. Diet

Your diet is critical to your oral health, and certain foods can trigger mouth ulcers. Spicy or acidic foods, as well as highly processed foods, can irritate the mouth’s inner lining, which can lead to mouth ulcers. To prevent mouth ulcers caused by diet, limit your consumption of spicy and acidic foods and processed snacks, and instead focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber.

4. Allergies

Allergies to certain substances can lead to the development of mouth ulcers. Allergic reactions such as hay fever, pet dander, or certain foods can trigger an immune response that causes mouth ulcers. Be aware of any triggers to prevent mouth ulcers caused by allergies and avoid them if possible. You can also take antihistamines to help reduce allergy symptoms that can lead to mouth ulcers.

5. Medical Conditions

Sometimes, mouth ulcers can be a symptom of a more severe underlying medical condition. Certain medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, lupus, or celiac disease, can cause mouth ulcers to develop. If mouth ulcers persist or reoccur frequently, consult your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions that might be the cause.


Thankfully, there are also some other ways to prevent mouth ulcers. Here are three effective ways to do it:

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Replace Missing Teeth

Missing teeth can indirectly lead to the development of mouth ulcers. When a tooth is absent, the surrounding teeth may shift to fill the gap, causing misalignment. This malocclusion can lead to difficulties in chewing, consequently increasing the chances of biting the inside of the cheek or tongue, which can result in mouth ulcers. Visiting your local implant dentistry service can help deal with this problem. They can implant a new artificial tooth, which can help preserve your mouth’s natural structure and prevent future mouth ulcers.

Tobacco and Alcohol Avoidance

Tobacco and alcohol are irritants that can increase the risk of developing mouth ulcers. Individuals who smoke or chew tobacco for extended durations have higher chances of suffering from frequent mouth ulcers. Avoiding or quitting alcohol and tobacco can help reduce the risk of developing mouth ulcers.

Use an Oral Rinse Before Bedtime

An oral rinse before bedtime can help prevent mouth ulcers from forming overnight. An antimicrobial oral rinse can deter the growth of bacteria and viruses that might cause infection, inflammation, and pain. An excellent oral rinse can also reduce the risk of plaque formation, which might lead to gum disease or other oral health issues.

Mouth ulcers can be uncomfortable and painful, but understanding their causes and taking preventive steps can help mitigate their occurrence in the future. Simple measures like avoiding certain foods, quitting smoking or drinking alcohol, using an oral rinse before bedtime, or replacing missing teeth can help reduce your risk of developing mouth ulcers.

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