How to Get Rid of Mouth Ulcers Fast
Oral Health

How to Get Rid of Mouth Ulcers Fast

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Mouth ulcers are sores that develop on the inside of the mouth. Sores may appear on the inner lip or cheek, the gum, the tongue or other soft areas of the mouth.

3 minute read

Mouth ulcers are usually harmless and should go away on their own within a couple of weeks, but they can cause a lot of discomfort in the meantime. In cases where mouth sores don’t go away, they may be a sign of something more serious.

Read this guide to find out what causes mouth ulcers, when you should see a dentist and ways to relieve mouth ulcer pain. 

Got questions about your oral health? Contact our team today.

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What are mouth ulcers? 

mouth ulcers

A mouth ulcer can develop when soft tissue inside the mouth is damaged or worn away. They are usually caused by irritation or injury, but may have other underlying causes.

If ulcers are in a visible position, they usually look round and white or grey in colour and may be accompanied by swelling.

Ulcers can feel painful or uncomfortable when touched or irritated. This is more likely to happen when:

  • eating, especially sharp, salty, sour or spicy foods
  • speaking, if the ulcer is rubbed by a sharp tooth, braces or dentures
  • brushing your teeth, if your toothbrush pokes the ulcer or slips

Mouth ulcers are sometimes referred to as mouth sores. It's important to distinguish them from cold sores, as ulcers are not contagious and do not itch.


What causes mouth ulcers?

Mouth ulcers can have many possible causes. The most common are accidental injuries or irritation caused by:

  • biting the inside of the cheek
  • sharp, damaged or misaligned teeth
  • damaged fillings or other dental work
  • loose or poorly fitting braces or dentures
  • poking with a toothbrush
  • sharp food or burns from hot food or drink
  • salty or spicy food


Other causes of mouth ulcers can include:

  • allergic reactions to food, oral health products or medication
  • skin rashes in the mouth
  • infections or diseases, including autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal disease or oral cancer
  • side effects of medication or medical treatments
  • vitamin or iron deficiencies

Dentists routinely perform oral cancer screenings to look for signs of a problem during a regular check-up. If you're overdue for a check-up, or if you're concerned about anything abnormal inside inside your mouth, book an appointment with us today.

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Mouth ulcers may be more likely to develop or have worse symptoms if:

  • you feel tired or suffer from stress or anxiety
  • your teeth are crooked or misaligned
  • you're going through hormonal changes (such as a pregnancy)
  • you've recently quit smoking
  • your family are prone to mouth ulcers

Some people have recurring mouth ulcers, known as aphthous ulcers. Treating these ulcers requires addressing the underlying cause.

When should I see a dentist or doctor?

Most mouth ulcers heal by themselves within 10 to 14 days. You should see a dentist, GP or other health professional if:

  • an ulcer lasts for longer than 2 weeks or is a recurring problem
  • pain from an ulcer is severe or interfering with your daily life
  • you have other unexpected symptoms, such as bleeding, weight loss or signs of an infection

A mouth ulcer that doesn't heal can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health problem. Your dentist may conduct an oral cancer screening if you are in a risk category.

Your dentist or doctor may also recommend a blood test or biopsy to determine whether your ulcer may be a symptom of a medical condition or vitamin deficiency.


Mouth ulcer treatments

Salt water rinse for mouth ulcers

Your dentist can discuss steps you can take and home remedies that might speed up the healing process, help to relieve discomfort and lower your risk of developing further ulcers. These can include:

Dietary changes

  • Avoid hard, hot, salty, sharp, sour or spicy foods until your ulcer heals
  • Drinking cool water through a straw could help to soothe your mouth
  • Eating probiotic yoghurt could help to improve healing in your body
  • Eat food rich in vitamin B12 or iron if you have a deficiency
  • Avoid chewing gum


Good oral hygiene

  • Continue to brush and floss as normal to prevent gum disease and infections
  • Brush gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush, taking care not to touch the ulcer
  • Talk to your dentist about switching to an antiseptic (and alcohol-free) mouthwash
  • Visit your dentist if it's been longer than 6 months since your last check-up and clean


Over-the-counter products

Your dentist or doctor can give you advice about products you can buy from pharmacies without a prescription that may help to ease symptoms or lower your risk of developing further ulcers. Depending on your situation, these could include:

  • Pain relief medication
  • Topical antiseptic or anaesthetic gel applied directly to the ulcer
  • Alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwash
  • Iron or vitamin B-12 supplements if you have a deficiency
  • Zinc supplements to boost the immune system and healing


Salt water rinse

A warm salt water solution is the most common home remedy for disinfecting a mouth ulcer and helping it to heal faster. To use a salt water rinse:

  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt to half a cup of warm water (not hot)
  • Take a mouthful and hold it in your mouth over the sore area for at least 2 minutes
  • Spit it out, taking care not to swallow
  • Repeat 4 times a day until the sore is no longer troubling you



If a mouth ulcer is more severe or recurring, your dentist or doctor may prescribe a stronger immunosuppressant or steroid medication in tablet or mouthwash form.


Talk to a dentist in East Victoria Park

If you need to talk to a professional about a mouth ulcer or for other oral health advice, make an appointment with our East Vic Park dentists at EVP Dental.

Call us today on (08) 9470 3944 or book online so we can schedule a time that works for you.


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