What Causes Mouth Ulcers?

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What Causes Mouth Ulcers?

Mouth ulcers are sores which appear on the lips, the insides of your cheeks or on your tongue. They are painful and are common for some people more than others. They are mainly caused by an imbalance between bacteria, viruses and fungi which are normally found within the mouth.

Normally, these germs are harmless. The balance of these germs is unique to the individual, but if that balance is disturbed by an additional infection, emotional or physical stress or injury, the germs may attack the lining of the mouth and cause an ulcer. Why are some people more prone to developing ulcers than others, some on a regular basis? There are risk factors for causes of mouth ulcers.

Risk Factors

Research suggests certain risk factors and certain types of food are responsible for the development of mouth ulcers. These risk factors include gender, age, genetics and stress. Women are believed to develop mouth ulcers more than men due to fluctuations in their menstrual cycle. Children from age 10, teenagers and adults up to 40 also are more prone to developing ulcers. Mouth ulcers appear to be fairly uncommon in the elderly.

Mouth ulcers also have a tendency to run in families; if one member of a family develops it, a close member most probably will as well. People who suffer from stress tend to develop mouth ulcers more frequently, both men and women. Husbands and wives may develop mouth ulcers at the same time. Certain foods like strawberries, almonds, chocolate, coffee, peanuts and cheese are also blamed for triggering mouth ulcers. Some people may also develop a mouth ulcer for no particular reason.

Children and Causes of Mouth Ulcers

Common causes of mouth ulcers in children include canker sores, cold sores, trauma and oral thrush. Other causes can be linked to a vitamin B deficiency, an allergy, anemia, the side effect of a medication, leukemia and oral cancer among others.

The cause of mouth ulcers in children is often an infection of the Coxsackie virus. This is a very common and contagious virus in children that can cause mouth sores which are often accompanied by spots on their hands and feet. Oral thrush also occurs frequently in young children. Both infections usually clear up on their own within few days to a week, but oral thrush may require prescription antibiotic treatment.

Children can also develop mouth ulcers from being exposed to unnecessary stress and anxiety, biting or chewing the inside of their cheeks, a change in diet or the increased intake of sweets and sugary foods. A child may also damage he soft tissues of the mouth by using a toothbrush forcefully, and this can trigger a mouth ulcer.

Teenagers and Ulcers

The development of mouth ulcers in teenagers has a lot to do with their lifestyles. An unhealthy lifestyle which includes junk food diets, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and late nigh,s can stress the immune system to the point where a teenager can develop a mouth ulcer. In addition teenage girls like women are more prone to mouth ulcers than men. This is largely due to the difference in hormones. Like they do in children, minor mouth ulcers usually last for a week to ten days and disappear on their own. Major ulcers however may require treatment.

Self-Care Measures

Self-care measures at home like using antiseptic and steroid mouthwashes, and drinking plenty of water can help to relieve mouth ulcers. Take a multivitamin supplement containing vitamin C and also the B vitamins. Prevention is better than cure. Avoid salty and spicy foods and acidic drinks like fruit juices. Observe careful oral hygiene by cleaning your teeth regularly and keeping your teeth and gums in good condition. Pay regular visits to your dentist, and make sure dentures fit if you wear them.


1. Medic8.com

A Guide to Mouth Ulcers & Mouth Ulcer Treatment


2. WebMD

Oral Health Guide