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What Causes Apthous Ulcers

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Have you ever wondered what causes apthous ulcers? You are not alone. Apthous ulcers are fairly common. According to the International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, an estimated 1 in 5 people have experienced apthous ulcers. apthous ulcers are ulcerated lesions or sores that can develop anywhere in your mouth. They are most commonly seen on the inner surface of the cheeks and lips, tongue, base of the gums and roof of the mouth. There are three different classifications of apthous ulcers: minor, major and herpetiform.

Minor apthous ulcers are the most common type. They are small in appearance, round or oval, and have a white or yellow center and a red border. Major apthous ulcers are less common, larger and deeper in size, and have irregular edges. Herpetiform apthous ulcers are irregular in shape, very small in size and occur in clusters of up to 100.

What Causes Apthous Ulcers?

apthous ulcers are not contagious, and they do not form as a result of the herpes virus as it is commonly thought. Although no one is certain what causes apthous ulcers, several factors in combination can contribute to their appearance. The most common factors are:

  • Mouth Injury: Dental work, brushing, sports, cheek bite.
  • Food Sensitivities: Chocolate, coffee, highly acidic or spicy foods.
  • Lack of Vitamins and Minerals: Iron, folic acid, B12 and zinc.
  • Hormonal Changes: Such as those occurring during menstruation.
  • Conditions and Diseases: Especially those that affect the body's immune system.

Are You at Risk?

Anyone can get mouth ulcers. Some people get apthous ulcers 2-3 times in a year, while others have continual appearances. The first occurrence is generally between the age of 10 and 40 years old, however; there are certain factors that increase the likelihood of appearance. According to the Mayo Clinic, apthous ulcers are more common in women and people with a family history of the disorder.

What Can You Do If You Have a Canker Sore?

The most painful period is in the first few days of appearance before the healing process begins. In some cases, it can be painful to eat or even talk during this period. The herpetiform and minor apthous ulcers heal and disappear after about two weeks. They leave no visible scarring. On the other hand, major apthous ulcers last several weeks, up to several months, and can leave extensive scarring. While healing, avoid consuming spicy or acidic foods and alcohol, which can cause pain in the area. Use a hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse such as Colgate® Peroxyl to cleanse and soothe the affected area.

Continue brushing and flossing your teeth daily. If any of the symptoms persist longer than two weeks, you experience pain not controllable with self-measures, you have large recurring sores or new sores appear before older sores have healed, contact your medical or dental practitioner. They will be able to diagnose your condition. Do not assume you have apthous ulcers, as other more serious ailments can present with similar symptoms. If necessary, your medical or dental practitioner can prescribe other preventative measures including, but not limited to, prescription medication and prescription mouthwash.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.