Most mouth ulcers do not require specific treatment. They will usually heal naturally without the need for treatment if they are:
- do not interfere with your daily activities, such as eating
If you have a mild mouth ulcer, there is some self-care advice that you can follow, which may help your ulcer to heal more quickly. You should:
- use a soft toothbrush when brushing your teeth
- avoid eating hard foods, such as toast, and stick to soft foods that are easier to chew
- avoid eating foods that have been known to cause ulcers in the past, until the ulcer has completely healed
- reduce your stress levels by doing an activity that you find relaxing, such as yoga, meditation or exercise
If your ulcer has a specific cause, such as a sharp tooth, it will usually heal naturally once the cause has been treated. If you suspect that a sharp tooth has caused an ulcer, visit your dentist so that they can repair it.
The following have shown to be related to recurrent mouth ulcers in the past:
- flavouring agents
- essential oils
- cow's milk
- citrus fruits
- certain spices
If your ulcer is causing you significant pain and discomfort, your GP will prescribe a medication to help ease your symptoms.
If you prefer, many of the medicines that are used to treat ulcers can also be purchased over the counter at your local pharmacy. Speak to your pharmacist about which medicine would be most suitable for you. Some mouth ulcer gels are not suitable for children under 16.
Some of the various medicines used to treat mouth ulcers are outlined below.
Antimicrobial mouthwash helps to kill any micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses or fungi that may cause a mouth infection if you are unable to brush your teeth properly.
Chlorhexidine gluconate is the most commonly prescribed mouthwash. You normally have to use it twice a day.
After using chorhexidine gluconate, you may notice that your teeth are covered in a brown stain. This staining is not permanent, and your teeth should return to their normal colour once you finish the treatment.
The best way to prevent staining is to brush your teeth before using chorhexidine gluconate mouthwash. However, after brushing your teeth make sure that you thoroughly rinse your mouth out with water before using the mouthwash.
Chorhexidine gluconate mouthwash should not be used by infants under two years old.
A corticosteroid is a type of medicine that reduce inflammation (swelling). Mouth ulcer medications contain a low dose of corticosteroid, which is usually enough to lower the inflammation.
Reducing the inflammation of your ulcer will make it is less painful. It is best to start using corticosteroid medication as soon as a mouth ulcer develops.
Hydrocortisone is the most commonly prescribed corticosteroid. It comes in the form of a lozenge, which slowly dissolves in your mouth. You usually have to take a lozenge four times a day.
Children under 12 years old should see a GP before starting this treatment. Your GP will inform you how to use this medication.
If your mouth ulcer is very painful, your GP may prescribe a painkiller that you can apply directly to your ulcer.
Your GP will usually prescribe benzydamine, which can either be taken in the form of a mouthwash or a spray. You will not be able to use benzydamine for more than seven days in a row.
The mouthwash form of benzydamine may sting when you first use it, but this should pass with continued use. However, if the stinging persists, contact your pharmacist or GP.
You may also find that your mouth feels numb when you first use the mouthwash. This is normal and the feeling will soon return to your mouth. When using sprays or mouthwashes, always follow the manufacturer's dosage instructions.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant, tell your GP or pharmacist before taking benzydamine mouthwash.
Although these treatments effectively reduce swelling and discomfort in mouth ulcers that are already present, they do not reduce the likelihood of you developing new mouth ulcers at any time during or after the treatment.