Mouth sores and ulcers

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Mouth sores or ulcers are one of the most common disorders in the oral cavity. Around 20% of the population will suffer from recurrent sores at sometime in their lives, though they are more common in small children, adolescents and young adults and they tend to decrease with age.

The oral mucosa

In the same way that the skin protects the body from the external environment, the mucous membrane lines the entire oral cavity, protecting it from mechanical damage, bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxic substances. In addition, it fulfils other functions such as: controlling and regulating fluid and nutrient exchange with the external environment, enabling us to taste food and drinks (through the taste buds on the tongue) and producing the mucous that lubricates the mouth and saliva (through the salivary glands).

What are mouth ulcers?

Mouth sores, canker sores, mouth ulcers and aphthous stomatitis, commonly known as “ulcers”, are a disruption of the physical continuity of the mucous membrane; in other words, there is a loss of tissue (a wound), with a resulting loss of functionality.

Although they are considered benign, canker sores can be very painful and sometimes make it difficult or impossible to speak and eat, they can also become infected causing complications, making it necessary to treat them quickly and effectively.

Types of mouth ulcers

Depending on how they manifest clinically, their location, shape and size, we can distinguish three types of ulcers:

  • Small sores or "minor ulcers": small ulcers that are usually located in the soft areas of the mucous membrane. We may find between 1 and 5 lesions whose diameter normally does not tend to exceed 10 mm. This is the most frequent kind (80%) and they usually heal within 6-14 days without leaving any long-term damage.

 

  • Larger sores or "major ulcers" often appear alone, usually on the lips, tongue, throat, palate and inner cheek area. They are larger than 10 mm and deeper than minor sores. They are less common (10%) and tend to be more persistent; they can take up to six weeks to heal and often leave scars.

 

  • Herpetiformis or "cluster ulcers": multiple lesions (10 to 100) usually appear all around the mouth. Their size does not usually exceed 3 mm but sores often join together to form larger ones. This is a less usual form of ulcer (10%).

 

Canker Sores: Causes

The causes of canker sores are often unknown. However, it is believed that there are people who have a genetic predisposition to suffer from them, while they may also be a consequence of nutritional, hormonal or immunological factors.

Certain bacterial or viral infections can manifest with the appearance of mouth sores or ulcers.

Beyond aphthous stomatitis, ulcers may also appear on the oral mucosa as a result of a trauma. For example, due to orthodontic treatments, the use of dental prostheses, bites or certain oral hygiene products.

Hyaluronic acid for treating and preventing ulcers

Cold sores and mouth ulcers cause the loss of connective tissue in the mucous membrane of the mouth and gums. Hyaluronic acid is a physiological constituent of this tissue. It is involved in the tissue repair and healing processes, acting locally as a protector, anti-inflammatory, anti-oedematous and healing substance.

Hyaluronic acid-based topical products are a very effective alternative for the treatment and prevention of mouth ulcers. Hyaluronic acid also has other multiple advantages. As it is a physiological constituent of the mouth and gum mucosa tissue, it has no contraindications or interactions and is harmless if swallowed.

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