All you need to know about mouth ulcers
They might be tiny but mouth ulcers can be a big deal: they're sore and can make eating and even talking extremely uncomfortable. With most people suffering from at least one or two per year, what are they and how can they be tackled?
“Usually inflamed white, red, yellow or grey in colour, mouth ulcers can be irritable when eating, drinking or brushing your teeth, but they are usually harmless," Tim Verhaeghe, skin care expert for Herpatch Ulcer Gel, reassures.
"Mouth ulcers are common, particularly in women and young adults... Some people can suffer with recurring mouth ulcers, ulcers that come back regularly. In fact in the UK, recurring mouth ulcers are estimated to affect about one in every five people. It is recommended that if this happens to you, that you visit your GP."
In total, there are three categories of mouth ulcer. Minor ones are small, don't leave scars and usually heal within two weeks without treatment. They're the most common and make up around three quarters of ulcers.
Major ulcers are around 1cm bigger, have a raised boarder and can last between two weeks and several months. They are often very painful and can even leave scars. Around ten per cent of ulcers can be classified as major.
Finally, there's the Herpetiform ulcer. They are tiny but extremely painful, sometimes with several fusing together to form a larger one. You'll find they stick around between a week and two months. Despite the name they're not related to the herpes virus and they're uncommon.
So focusing on the most common type, minor ulcers, they're often caused by everyday things such as biting the inside of the cheek, overactive teeth brushing, dental work, anxiety and stress.
To combat them, you can buy special over-the-counter gels and take extra care when caring for your mouth. For example, go easy on the tooth brushing, avoid spicy and acidic food and reduce your stress levels where possible.