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What Causes Mouth Ulcers?

Mouth ulcers are small, shallow little ulcers in the mouth that can make it difficult to eat or, in some cases, even talk. Medically referred to as apthous ulcers, they are actually fairly common in both adults and children. But what causes these types of ulcers, and what can you do to keep them from forming or, if they’ve already formed, how can you treat them?

Simple and Complex Apthous Ulcers

Apthous ulcers can be either simple or complex. The simple type of ulcer appears three or four times every year, but they usually only last for around a week. Those who are between 10 and 20 years old will see this type of ulcer fairly frequently. Complex apthous ulcers, on the other hand, are much rarer, and people usually only develop these types of ulcers frequently after the first one appears.


What causes the development of these mouth ulcers? Doctors are still not exactly certain. However, some guesses include stress or damage to the tissue in the mouth. Evidence also suggests that acidic fruits and vegetables like lemons, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, figs, apples, and pineapples may be a factor. Dentures that don’t quite fit right are another suspect in the development of mouth ulcers.

Cold Sores and Mouth Ulcers

A cold sore is not the same as an apthous ulcer. While they may seem similar, cold sores are actually contagious, while mouth ulcers are not. Cold sores aren’t damage to the tissue of the mouth, either—instead, they appear as a blister that’s filled with fluid. They can also appear around the nose, chin, and lips, while apthous ulcers are only in the mouth.


The symptoms of mouth ulcers include a small painful sore on the check, mouth, tongue, or soft palate. These sores may be round or oval shaped. They are white or gray in color and usually have a red ring around them. If the ulcer is severe, you may experience a fever and feel very lethargic. Your lymph nodes will also be swollen.

Treatment and Prevention

There are a couple of different ways to treat and prevent the formation of apthous ulcers. Once you have one, you can simply let it heal on its own. Most mouth ulcers heal within two weeks without any type of treatment. However, if you use a mouth rinse, corticosteroid ointment, or a prescription medication, they will vanish much more quickly.

Want to stop mouth ulcers from ever forming? The first thing you should do is make certain that your immune system is strong. A strong immune system will fight off infections and help heal your mouth ulcers much more quickly. This means you’ll want to remove junk food from your diet and avoid things like excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. Taking a supplement like an acai berry product is another idea.  Research has shown that acai berry does have health benefits.  Speak to your doctor before you begin taking any supplement.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.