Anyone who has ever experienced a mouth ulcer knows that a little sore in the wrong place can be a big pain. Here’s expert advice from Dirna Grobbelaar, Ivohealth’s oral hygiene advisor, on how to prevent mouth ulcer misery.
Mouth ulcers only appear inside the mouth. Unlike cold sores or fever blisters, which only appear outside, usually on the lips or around the mouth. You’ll find mouth ulcers, in singles or multiples, on the tongue or lining of the mouth. They are usually round and reddish.
Causes of mouth ulcers
Most people will experience a sore inside the mouth at some point. These are often caused by a minor injury: biting the cheek accidentally, consuming food or drink that’s too hot, and poorly-fitting dentures or braces, especially when orthodontics are initially fitted.
Aphthous ulcers are the ones that recur and often first appear in childhood or adolescence. They tend to return during hormonal changes, times of stress, or anytime that the immune system is compromised for some reason.
About a third of people will experience mouth ulcers and/or other oral health problems during treatment for cancer.
Treatment for mouth ulcers
Mouth ulcers are not contagious and usually clear up by themselves in a few days. A proper oral hygiene routine to keep the mouth as clean as possible helps ulcers heal more quickly. For more info on the ideal oral care routine when you have ulcers visit www.ivohealth.co.za
There are various over-the- counter medications available that help relieve the discomfort and pain. Soothing Aloclair gel and spray are easy to apply and help form a barrier over the exposed nerve endings, giving almost immediate relief.
Mouth ulcers tend to last up to 10 to 14 days. Consult your doctor or dentist if your ulcer does not heal within three weeks. Oral cancer is predicted to treble in the next generation and it’s important to rule it out.
Oral care and mouth ulcers
Even if your mouth is sore don’t neglect your oral care routine. Mouth ulcers expose sensitive nerve endings which can make cleaning your mouth uncomfortable. However, maintaining good oral hygiene at this time can promote quicker healing and will keep your teeth and gums healthy.
After eating and before going to bed, rinse with an anti-bacterial mouthwash, such as GUM Paroex, to help prevent the ulcer becoming infected. Continue to brush your teeth correctly twice a day, using a soft-bristled, or child’s toothbrush if necessary. If your toothpaste stings, try a non-foaming toothpaste, like GUM Paroex Gel or all-natural Olgani Herbal Toothpaste.
Five tips to manage mouth ulcers
- Avoid very hot, spicy, salty or acidic foods and drinks.
- Use Aloclair gel or spray to form a protective barrier over the ulcer.
- Use a straw (eco-friendly) when drinking.
- Rinse with GUM Paroex, an alcohol-free antiseptic mouth rinse.
- Maintain a good oral hygiene routine, using antiseptic GUM Paroex gel (instead of a strong, minty toothpaste) with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush.
For expert advice on looking after your oral health during cancer treatment, download Ivohealth’s ‘Love Your Life, Love Your Oral Care’ booklet www.ivohealth.co.za/cancer-oral-health, or email email@example.com to request a free copy.
MEET OUR EXPERT – Dirna Grobbelaar
Dirna Grobbelaar qualified as an oral hygienist in 1999. She consults to Ivohealth, and also works in practice part-time to keep up-to-date with the latest trends, information and patient concerns.