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Alternative namesOral ulcer; Stomatitis - ulcerative; Ulcer - mouth
DefinitionMouth ulcers are sores or open lesions within the mouth caused by various disorders. (See also mouth sores or aphthous ulcer .)
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Mouth ulcers are caused by many disorders. These include canker sores , leukoplakia , gingivostomatitis , oral cancer , oral lichen planus , oral thrush, herpes simplex, and other disorders. The skin lesion of histoplasmosis may also appear as a mouth ulcer.
Aphthous ulcer is more common in young adults than in children or older adults.
Signs and testsA health care provider or dentist usually diagnoses the type of mouth ulcer based on the appearance and location of the lesion. A skin biopsy of the ulcer or blood tests may be needed to confirm the disorder causing the problem.
TreatmentThe goal of treatment is relief of symptoms. The cause, if known, should be treated. Gentle, thorough oral hygiene may relieve some of the symptoms. Topical antihistamines, antacids, corticosteroids, or other soothing preparations may be recommended to apply to the mouth ulcer. Avoid hot or spicy foods, which often increase the pain of mouth ulcers.
Expectations (prognosis)The outcome varies with the causative disorder. Many mouth ulcers are benign and resolve without specific treatment. Rarely, chronic mouth ulcers can develop into oral cancer .
Calling your health care providerCall for an appointment with your health care provider if your mouth ulcer(s) persist for longer than 3 weeks. Call for an appointment with your health care provider if mouth ulcers recur frequently, or if new symptoms develop.
PreventionGood oral hygiene may help in the prevention of some types of mouth ulcers or complications from mouth ulcers. This includes brushing the teeth at least twice per day, flossing at least daily, and regular professional dental cleaning and examination.
Update Date: 5/4/2003Bridget Martell, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT