What are Mouth Ulcers and How Can They Be Treated?

Mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores or aphthous ulcers, are painful lesions that can develop on the inside of the mouth, including the cheeks, lips, tongue, gums, and roof or floor of the mouth. They are typically round or oval with a white or yellow center and a red border. There are various causes and treatments of mouth ulcers.


  • Minor injury: Accidental biting, dental work, or aggressive brushing.
  • Certain foods: Citrus fruits, spicy foods, or acidic foods.
  • Hormonal changes: Especially in women during menstruation.
  • Stress or anxiety: Can weaken the immune system.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Especially of iron, vitamin B12, and folate.
  • Certain medical conditions: Such as gastrointestinal diseases or immune system disorders.

Treatment and Management:

Treatment aims to relieve pain, promote healing, and prevent recurrence. Here are some strategies:

  1. Pain relief:
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Topical numbing agents (e.g., benzocaine) can provide temporary relief.
  2. Promoting healing:
    • Use oral rinses containing anesthetic agents, antiseptics, or corticosteroids to reduce pain and inflammation and aid healing.
    • Avoid spicy, acidic, or rough-textured foods that can aggravate the ulcers.
  3. Home remedies:
    • Rinse mouth with saltwater (1 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water) several times a day to help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
    • Apply a small amount of milk of magnesia to the ulcer with a cotton swab a few times a day.
  4. Nutritional supplements:
    • If ulcers are related to nutritional deficiencies, your doctor may recommend supplements such as iron, vitamin B12, or folate.
  5. Medical treatments:
    • In severe cases or if ulcers are persistent, your doctor or dentist may prescribe corticosteroid ointments or mouth rinses to reduce inflammation.
    • In some cases, topical antimicrobial agents or oral medications may be prescribed.
  6. Managing underlying conditions:
    • If mouth ulcers are due to an underlying medical condition, treating the condition may help prevent recurrence.


  • Avoid triggering factors such as spicy or acidic foods.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene and use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Manage stress through relaxation techniques or counseling if needed.
  • Ensure a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals.

If mouth ulcers are recurrent, severe, or persist despite home treatment, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional such as a Greenville, NC dentist like Pruitt & Earp Dentistry for further evaluation and appropriate management.

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