Aphthous Stomatitis, also commonly known as canker sore, is a disease in which small or large ulcers are formed inside the mouth, usually inside lips, on the insides of cheeks or even on the tongue. A person suffering from this diseases experiences periodic breakout of ulcers in the mouth at least 3-4 times in a year but may be more. The small ulcers take about 10 days to heal while the bigger ones may take several days but they do get completely healed before the next breakout. Aphthous Stomatitis (Canker Sore) is one of the most common oral diseases, occurring in almost 20% of the world’s total population.
Causes Of Canker Sore (Aphthous Stomatitis) :
Researchers have not been able to put their finger on the exact cause of this disease since a causative organism has not been discovered. It does not share any similarity with other autoimmune diseases, nor have any common auto antibodies been found in different persons suffering from this disease. However, some factors are generally believed to affect the outbreak of ulcers in the mouth, for example:
- Allergy to food items like coffee, cheese, nuts etc.
- Weakening of general body immunity.
- Suffering from severe stress for a long period of time.
- Lack of proper nutrition.
- Reaction to certain medicines and drugs.
Symptoms of Aphthous Stomatitis :
There are no symptoms of this disease as long as ulcers do not occur. But if you experience frequent outbreaks of ulcers in the mouth, keep these symptoms in mind:
- The ulcers are usually inside the cheeks, on the lips or on the tongue.
- Severe burning or itching sensation around the ulcer.
- The ulcers are extremely painful for a couple of days after they are formed and subsequently the pain recedes.
- Ulcers have a red or greyish base and are covered with a yellow layer.
- Several ulcers are formed within a matter of days and it happens 3-6 times in a year.
Often, people suffering from ulcers in their mouth do not realize that they are actually suffering from Aphthous Stomatitis. The best way to differentiate between a normal ulcer and those occurring because of Aphthous Stomatitis is to take note of the timing of occurrence of the ulcers and the severity. If you have a breakout of ulcers i.e. several ulcers forming at the same time in the mouth instead of just one or two at a time, chances are it is Aphthous Stomatitis. Also, the ulcers caused by this disease have a yellowish tinge to them and are a lot more painful than normal ulcers. Swallowing food, speaking and even chewing can be very painful if you have this disease.
No specific test is conducted for this disease but the following tests are recommended to help in fighting the disease:
- Haemoglobin Test – to ensure the body is immune.
- Blood cell count (including RBC and WBC) – to ensure proper nutrition is being taken,
- Check levels of Iron in blood – Lack of Iron causes oral diseases.
- Check levels of Vitamin B-12 in blood – Lack of this vitamin is the most common cause for ulcers.
The diagnosis is based firstly on a series of blood tests so as to rule out the possibility of the ulcers being just normal ulcers due to low body immunity, lack of Iron, folate or Vitamin B-12 in the blood. A physical examination of the lesions is usually sufficient for an experienced doctor to classify them as being related to Aphthous Stomatitis. However, a culture test of the lesion may also be done. Besides that, some doctors may also choose to do a biopsy of the lesion i.e. taking a small tissue from the lesion and examining it under a microscope, for cases involving complications.
These ulcers are extremely painful and may cause varying levels of discomfort in different individuals depending on their severity. A breakout of ulcers typically lasts 10-15 days but may take more time to heal in persons with low immunity. Generally, the pain is bearable and does not require any medication. It is best to wait for the ulcers to heal on their own. In the meantime, you can avoid eating food items which make the ulcers burn or pain even more.
If you have a history of canker sores, you cannot be completely immune to them. But you can delay their occurrence by taking these precautionary steps:
- Make sure you eat a healthy diet, possibly one recommended by a nutritionist.
- Avoid acidic foods like pineapples and tomatoes as they may promote the growth of ulcers.
- Ensure that your blood has the required level of Iron, Vitamin B-12 and folate. You can undergo monthly blood tests for the same.
- Chew your food carefully so that you don’t bite your tongue or cheeks.
Types of Aphthous Stomatitis :
The lesions formed due to Aphthous Stomatitis can be of 3 types:
- Minor Aphthous Ulcers – These are small ulcers, usually 2-4mm in diameter. These are fairly mild, do not give a lot of trouble and will heal within 7-10 days. The frequency of occurrence is usually once in 3-4 months.
- Major Aphthous Ulcers – These are larger variety of ulcers, measuring 1 cm in diameter or more. They recur very frequently, take up to a month to heal completely and may also leave scars after healing.
- Hereptiform Ulcerations – These are mostly found in females of 40 years of age or more. They are pinheaded size ulcers but are extremely painful and recur so frequently that new ones appear even before the old ones have healed.
Aphthous Stomatitis may not be a life threatening disease but it is still extremely painful and causes a lot of discomfort. Having ulcers in your mouth, whether big or small can be a source of constant irritation as you have difficulty in speaking, eating and drinking. Recurring ulcers, especially those which appear before the old ones have healed are particularly discomforting. Also, large sores may leave life-long scars.
Images, Pics, Photos and Pictures of Canker Sore :
Home Remedies :
The most basic step to ensure that ulcers do not occur frequently is to maintain oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth and flossing is an absolute essential. You may also pay a visit to the dentist once a month for dental cleaning. Besides this, if the ulcers are too painful, then an oral pain relieving gel recommended by the chemist can be used on the ulcers. One can also try oral antibiotic rinse which can prevent ulcers from occurring, but the dosage and brand used should be approved by your doctor.
Aphthous Stomatitis is not really such a severe disease which requires systematic treatment. Generally, ulcers heal on their own pretty quickly. Systematic treatment is avoided because of the extreme side effects of such a treatment and is reserved only for very severe cases. However, here is a list of treatment which can relieve pain and inflammation in the mouth:
- Topical analgesics like Benzydamine hydrochloride mouthwash can help reduce the pain.
- Topical antiseptics like Doxycycline can help in faster healing of ulcers.
- Topical corticosteroids help in reducing inflammation caused by ulcers.
Risk of Oral Cancer :
Aphthous Stomatitis is a non-infectious, non-transferable disease. Occurrence of frequent ulcers in the mouth which heal on their own does not mean oral cancer, nor has this disease ever known to be the cause for oral cancer. However, if a lesion does not show signs of healing even after two weeks, it might not be Aphthous Stomatitis at all, but actually the beginning of a cancerous lesion.