Item(s) added to my list.

Mouth Ulcers - Painful But Easy To Treat

Mouth Ulcers - Painful But Easy To Treat


Mouth ulcers are small, painful lesions which usually appear on the inside of the cheeks, on the lips, on the tongue, and on gums. They appear as round or oval-shaped sores, usually less than 1cm in diameter. They are typically yellow to grey in colour and surrounded by a red, swollen rim.

Mouth ulcers can be extremely painful, making it difficult to eat, drink, talk, or swallow. However, these harmless, non-contagious sores tend to heal in seven to 14 days on their own, even without treatment.

Mouth ulcers are quite common and may be caused by:

  • injury (e.g. accidentally biting the cheeks, poor-fitting dentures, braces, grazing from a toothbrush, burns from hot food and drinks)
  • changes in hormone levels
  • lack of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid
  • food allergies
  • genetics
  • stress or anxiety
  • reactions to certain medications
  • a suppressed immune system

Treatments for mouth ulcers usually aim to ease the pain, quicken the healing process, or prevent new lesions from forming.

Different products provide relief in different ways:

  • Gels help to relieve the pain, redness, and swelling associated with mouth ulcers. They may also contain ingredients to numb the pain.
  • Mouthwashes help to prevent bacterial infections and reduce the redness and swelling of the ulcers. They also help to treat hard-to-reach ulcers and keep the mouth clean when brushing teeth becomes too painful.
  • Pastes help to form a protective layer over the mouth ulcer, allowing it to heal and at the same time, relieves pain, redness, and swelling.

If a medication is causing the problem, have it changed; and try to maintain a strong and healthy immune system. Self-care practices may also be used to provide temporary pain relief and prevent recurrence, but the treatment usually depends on the cause of the mouth ulcers.

Here are some suggestions you might want to try:

  • apply ice on the mouth ulcers to help reduce the pain
  • rinse the mouth with warm water, salt water or a medicated mouthwash frequently
  • chew food slowly
  • not to chew and talk at the same time
  • have dentures fitted properly
  • apply a topical pain reliever
  • take oral painkillers
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • use a soft toothbrush and brush gently
  • avoid spicy, acidic, sour, and/or sharp foods which may aggravate the condition
  • avoid very hot foods or drinks
  • eat healthily or increase intake of vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron
  • learn to relax and find ways to relieve stress

Sometimes, the sore may be a sign of a more serious medical condition.

You should consult a doctor or dentist if you notice that the sores:

  • have lasted longer than three weeks
  • have not healed with treatment
  • are unusually large (more than 1cm in diameter)
  • occur very frequently
  • bleed or are painless

You may want to go for a check-up if you have diarrhoea, a sore throat, a rash, or a high fever accompanying the ulcer as well.

Get the latest news and offers. Subscribe to Guardian's newsletter.
*T&C apply. By clicking the "Subscribe" button above, you consent to our collection, use and disclosure of your personal data in accordance with our  Privacy Policy