Aphthous ulcer is a common type of oral ulcer or sore. It is a painful open sore in the mouth, which appears as a white, yellow or gray lesion bordered by a bright area. Aphthous ulcer often appears on the inner surface of the cheeks, lip, tongue and the base of the gum.
People with the ulcer experience burning sensation followed by a bump that then ulcerates. Usually it remains painful for 7-10 days. Acidic foods tend to aggravate the sores and like all ulcers, they are very difficult to treat.
There are over-the-counter medications that may offer relief to the discomfort, but they need to be started at the first sign of the sore. Aphthous ulcers are very common and tend to occur more often in women than men.
The exact cause of aphthous ulcers is unknown. In most cases, the ulcers develop for no apparent reason in people who are healthy. In some cases, the ulcers are related to other factors or diseases, faulty immune system, changes in hormone levels, some ex-smokers find they develop ulcers only after stopping smoking, emotional or physical stress, injury such as from rough dentures, dental work, hot food, tooth brushing or biting the mouth.
Tips to prevent
-Regular use of non-alcoholic mouthwash may help prevent or reduce the frequency of ulcer.
-Dental braces are a common physical trauma that can lead to aphthous ulcers and dental brachet can be covered with max to reduce abrasion.
-Zinc deficiency has been reported in people with recurrent aphthous ulcers.
-Avoid products or food mostly acidic food, which exacerbate ulcers.
-Improve diet or take dietary supplements containing vitamins or minerals that are effective for preventing certain aphthous ulcer due to deficiency of those vitamins.
Most ulcer sores go away on their own in a week or two. In extreme painful case, medication might be needed to control pain or expedite healing.
The write up is compiled by Dr Shahjada Selim, working in the Department of Endocrinology, BIRDEM Hospital, Dhaka.