What Causes Mouth Ulcers?

Mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores or aphthous ulcers, are small, painful sores that can develop inside the mouth. The exact cause of mouth ulcers is not well understood, but several factors are thought to contribute to their development. Here are some potential causes:

  1. Minor injury or trauma: Accidental biting of the cheek, tongue, or lip, or irritation from dental braces, ill-fitting dentures, or sharp tooth edges can trigger the formation of mouth ulcers.
  2. Tissue damage: Any kind of tissue damage to the mouth lining, such as burns from hot food or beverages, aggressive tooth brushing, or dental procedures, can lead to the formation of ulcers.
  3. Immune system abnormalities: It is believed that an abnormal immune response may contribute to the development of mouth ulcers. Certain immune system disorders, such as Beh├žet’s disease or autoimmune conditions like lupus, can increase the risk of recurring mouth ulcers.
  4. Hormonal changes: Some individuals may experience mouth ulcers in relation to hormonal fluctuations, such as during menstruation or pregnancy. Hormonal changes are believed to influence the vulnerability of oral tissues.
  5. Nutritional deficiencies: Deficiencies in certain nutrients, including vitamin B12, folate, zinc, or iron, have been associated with an increased risk of developing mouth ulcers. However, it’s important to note that nutritional deficiencies alone are not the sole cause of ulcers, and other factors usually contribute.
  6. Stress and emotional factors: Emotional stress or anxiety can sometimes trigger or exacerbate mouth ulcers in susceptible individuals. The exact mechanisms by which stress influences ulcer development are not fully understood.

It’s important to note that mouth ulcers are not contagious and are different from cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Most mouth ulcers heal on their own within one to two weeks without any specific treatment. However, if you experience persistent or unusually large ulcers, or if they are accompanied by other symptoms, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and appropriate management.