mouth ulcer

Mouth ulcers are painful round or oval sores that appear in the mouth, on the inner cheeks, lips, or on the tongue. Although the problem is usually non-threatening and resolves without intervention, mouth ulcers are a source of considerable discomfort, making it difficult to brush your teeth, eat food, or even drink fluids.

While traumatic ulcers that appear in isolation are obviously caused by trauma to the mouth, there is still little understanding about the underlying causes of mouth ulcers in most other cases.

Nevertheless, there are certain possible triggers and conditions that experts believe could cause recurrent mouth ulcers.

Causes Of Recurring Mouth Ulcers


“A large number of patients report the appearance of ulcers during particularly stressful times”

Although there is no scientific consensus, many experts believe that stress could be a cause or a trigger for mouth ulcers, as a large number of patients report the appearance of ulcers during particularly stressful times.

Of course, this could also be an indirect cause as stress can cause physical symptoms like bruxism – clenching or grinding of the teeth during sleep. This can cause trauma to the delicate check tissues, giving rise to mouth ulcers.

Food Triggers

“Crunchy & spicy foods, as well as certain acidic fruits can trigger mouth ulcers in some people”

Aside from crunchy foods that can cause damage to the lining inside your mouth, certain other foods can also exacerbate a mouth ulcer problem.

Spicy foods like chilies and peppers, as well as acidic foods like oranges, lemon, and tomatoes can be triggers for some people.

In case of certain allergies like celiac disease too, mouth ulcers may also form because of a reaction to wheat or gluten.

However, such allergies are extremely rare in India. To better identify food triggers, maintain a food diary.

Nutritional Deficiency

“Vitamin B12 & iron deficiencies, which are pervasive in India, have also been linked with the problem”

Unfortunately, it’s not just the foods you eat that can cause problems, but also deficiencies that arise because of what you aren’t eating. Vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies are particularly common in India, as the best sources of these nutrients include meat, fish, and dairy.

As luck would have it, such deficiencies may also be tied to the problem of recurring mouth ulcers. If necessary, try to take supplements, but after consulting your doctor.

If you’d rather avoid medical consultation, make sure to modify your diet to include more vegetarian sources of vitamin B12  and iron, like spinach, kale, and legumes.

Your Toothpaste

“If you have a sensitivity or allergy to sodium lauryl sulphate, your toothpaste could be the real culprit for mouth ulcers”

Yes, brushing your teeth is essential for oral hygiene, but not all of the ingredients used are great for oral health. A number of people have an allergy or sensitivity to a common toothpaste ingredient – sodium lauryl sulphate.

Although unnecessary, the ingredient is used to create that nice thick foam. If your toothpaste contains this ingredient and causes irritation, ask your dentist to prescribe a toothpaste without sodium lauryl sulphate.

Hormonal Changes

“Rising progesterone levels during periods can cause inflammation & swelling of mucosal tissue”

As if periods weren’t bad enough, they are often accompanied by a variety of unpleasant side effects. Mouth ulcers or canker sores are yet another problem associated with the hormonal changes that occur during menstruation.

Hormonal changes, such as a rise in progesterone levels can cause inflammation or swelling of mucosal tissue, bacterial overgrowth, or weakened immune function. Not surprisingly, mouth ulcers are a monthly occurrence for many women.

Our Advice

Despite the great discomfort they cause, mouth ulcers resolve quickly and without the need for intervention.

At times however, mouth ulcers can linger on, in which case you should visit your dentist. Mouth ulcers that do not heal with time or treatment can also be an early sign of mouth cancer.

Although rare in young adults, individuals who smoke and drink are at particularly high risk. Either way, it would be a good idea to get it checked before it’s too late.