Don't let mouth ulcers affect your smile

Don't let mouth ulcers affect your smile

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month which aims to raise awareness of the disease and help save 30,000 lives over the next decade through early detection.

At current rates the incidence of mouth cancer is likely to double within a generation. Risk factors include smoking, alcohol abuse, poor diet, using chewing or smokeless tobacco and, more recently, HPV, which is sexually transmitted infection caught through oral sex.

If you have ulcers which do not health within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth, the British Dental Health Foundation message to everyone is 'If in doubt, get checked out'

Here are some facts about mouth ulcers by Molar Ltd:

1. Mouth ulcers are not infectious – you cannot catch them from kissing someone.

2. Mouth ulcers affect at least 20 per cent of the population – most people will have at least one during their lifetime.

3. A mouth ulcer is an exposed nerve which is why they can be so painful.

4. Whilst most mouth ulcers are painful but harmless, a mouth ulcer that hasn’t healed after ten days needs checking. Mouth ulcers that take longer to heal can be an indicator of a more serious underlying health condition such as mouth cancer and Guillain Barre Syndrome. If mouth ulcers recur frequently then see your doctor or dentist for advice and a health check-up.

5. Studies have shown that mouth ulcers are particularly common in women and young adults. This is possibly because it is thought by some that mouth ulcers are linked to menstruation or pregnancy. However, this has not been scientifically proven.

6. Foods such as chocolate, tomatoes, strawberries, wheat flour and some nuts (including peanuts and almonds), as well as eating hot and spicy dishes such as curries can increase the likelihood of developing mouth ulcers.

7. Around 40 per cent of individuals who suffer recurrent mouth ulcers have a family history of the condition.

8. People that have just given up smoking often find that they develop more mouth ulcers than normal. This is due to the body dealing with a change in chemicals in the body and is perfectly normal.

9. Single ulcers can occur as a result of damage to your mouth, typically from accidental biting, a sharp tooth edge or filling, or damage caused during eating (e.g. biting the cheek or trauma from sharper foods such as crisps, etc). A poor tooth brushing technique can also contribute to mouth ulcers forming.

10. Some individuals repeatedly suffer from mouth ulcers which tend to occur in small clusters. This recurrent form is called ‘Recurrent Apthous Stomatitis’ (RAS) and sufferers can have up to one attack per month.

11. A common foaming agent in toothpastes, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), is thought to cause some people’s mouth ulcers.

12. Coeliac sufferers often get mouth ulcers if they accidentally consume gluten in their food.

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