Debunking Aphthous Stomatitis
Aphthous Stomatitis, more commonly known as mouth ulcers, is a prevalent oral health concern. Learn all about its causes, symptoms, and treatment methods.
In the realm of oral health, one of the common afflictions that individuals encounter is Aphthous Stomatitis or mouth ulcers. Characterized by painful lesions that appear whitish at the center and reddish around the edges, these sores can significantly impact a person's ability to eat and drink.
They can appear in sensitive areas like the tongue, gums, cheeks, and palate, marking them as one of the most frequently occurring oral diseases. Statistically, it affects around 20% of the population.
Several factors can cause mouth ulcers. These may range from a weakened immune system, nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, hormonal shifts during adolescence, to conditions like celiac disease.
These lesions are non-contagious, yet more prevalent among women. While these inflamed sores usually heal on their own within a short period, severe ulcers could take up to 1.5 months to heal.
Mouth ulcers are typically categorized into two types based on their size - minor ulcers smaller than half a centimeter and major ulcers larger than half a centimeter.
Minor ulcers often heal within ten days without any treatment, whereas major ulcers could significantly impact the quality of life. If you experience more than three occurrences of mouth ulcers per year, it's recommended to seek medical advice to investigate potential underlying causes.
The exact cause of mouth ulcers remains undetermined, but several probable causes include diminished immunity, genetic predisposition, hormonal disorders, allergic reactions to certain foods, unhealthy habits like smoking and alcohol consumption, and the aftermath of reckless teeth brushing, among others.
Even psychological factors such as stress, depression, and anxiety, vitamin deficiencies, overconsumption of acidic fruits and spices, certain medication side effects, cheek or tongue biting habits, and deficiency of iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12 can also trigger mouth ulcers.
The symptoms of mouth ulcers include severe pain in the tongue and back of the mouth, tingling or burning sensation before the appearance of the ulcer, red-rimmed round ulcers in white, grey, or yellow, increased pain while speaking, and ulcers that can spread to the outside of the mouth. In advanced cases, swollen lymph nodes, fever, fatigue, and physical weakness may also be observed.
Even though mouth ulcers generally heal on their own within a span of 7 to 10 days without any treatment, managing the pain, accelerating the healing process, and preventing recurrence are the primary goals of the treatment plan.
Based on the severity of your ulcer, your doctor may recommend anesthetic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory topical treatments. For stubborn major ulcers, systematic treatments in the form of tablets or injections may be necessary.
You can also resort to natural remedies to mitigate the pain, such as avoiding hot, acidic, and irritating foods, applying a cream made from water and baking soda to the ulcer, gargling three times a day with a mixture of half a teaspoon of salt in half a cup of water, and several other methods.
For prevention, maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, avoid consuming acidic, spicy, and overly hot foods, refrain from eating hard and irritating foods if you're prone to mouth ulcers, brush your teeth regularly after every meal, use dental floss, fix any dental issues that could cause chronic trauma in your mouth, and quit smoking.
In babies and children, mouth ulcers can develop due to a weakened immune system, especially during the cold winter months when they are more susceptible to illnesses like the flu. Inadequate nutrition can also trigger the formation of ulcers.
Signs of mouth ulcers in babies include difficulty sucking, resistance to feeding, refusal to eat, increased salivation, mild fever, and general restlessness. If you suspect or see any ulcers in your child's mouth, it's advisable to consult a doctor immediately.
Your doctor may recommend ointments and antibacterial gels to speed up the healing process. If the condition arises from nutritional deficiencies, they might suggest some tests to identify any lacking vitamins or minerals and propose appropriate supplements.