Aphthous ulcer overview

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1];Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Kiran Singh, M.D. [2]

Overview

An aphthous ulcer or canker sore is a type of mouth ulcer which presents as a painful open sore inside the mouth, caused by a break in the mucous membrane. The condition is also known as aphthous stomatitis, and alternatively as "Sutton's Disease," especially in the case of multiple or recurring ulcers.

The term aphtha means ulcer; it has been used for many years to describe areas of ulceration on mucous membranes. Aphthous stomatitis is a condition which is characterized by recurrent discrete areas of ulceration which are almost always painful. Recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS) can be distinguished from other diseases with similar-appearing oral lesions, such as certain viral exanthems, by their tendency to recur, and their multiplicity and chronicity. Recurrent aphthous stomatitis is one of the most common oral conditions. At least 10% of the population suffers from it. Women are more often affected than men. About 30–40% of patients with recurrent aphthae report a family history.[3][4][5]

Causes

The exact cause of aphthous ulcers is unknown. Factors that provoke them include stress, fatigue, illness, injury from accidental biting, hormonal changes, menstruation, sudden weight loss, food allergies, the foaming agent in toothpaste (SLS), and deficiencies in vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid.[1] Some drugs, such as nicorandil, also have been linked with mouth ulcers. In some cases they are thought to be caused by an overreaction by the body's ownimmune system.

Diagnosis

Physical Examination

Skin

Mouth

Medical Therapy

Aphthous ulcers normally heal without treatment within 1 to 2 weeks. Good oral hygiene should be maintained, and spicy, acidic, and salty foods and drinks are best avoided, as they may irritate existing ulcers. Strong mouthwash such as Listerine has also been known to cause irritation because of its strong ingredients, and many oral care professionals discourage the use of it while having a mouth ulcer.

Primary Prevention

The best way to prevent Aphthous ulcers is to keep your mouth free of infection. This includes brushing and flossing your teeth, keeping your hands out of your mouth and visiting the dentist for regular cleanings.

References

  1. Wray D, Ferguson M, Hutcheon W, Dagg J (1978). "Nutritional deficiencies in recurrent aphthae". J Oral Pathol. 7 (6): 418–23. PMID 105102.



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