Commonly referred to
as canker sores, mouth ulcers (or aphthous stomatitis) appear as several
painful white or yellowish raised spots. In severe cases, a dozen or more
may arise, either as sores scattered through the mouth or as large clusters.
They tend to be acutely painful for the first few days, last about 1 to 2
weeks, and then heal without consequence. Larger ulcers may last weeks or
months and may also be accompanied by fatigue, fever, and swollen lymph
Although the cause of mouth ulcers is unknown, physicians believe that an
abnormal immune response or a viral infection may be the problem. Stress or
local trauma, such as from ill-fitting dentures, may precipitate an attack.
In unusual cases, mouth ulcers may be a symptom of a systemic disorder, like
allergic reactions to foods, anemia, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or
lupus. Deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, and folate have been associated
with an increased risk of mouth ulcers; eating foods high in these nutrients
may help to prevent occurrences.
MOUTH ULCERS AND NUTRITION
During attacks, avoid any food or beverage that may irritate the sores.
The most common offenders are hot beverages, alcohol, salty or spicy foods,
and anything acidic.
Try a diet of bland soft foods
If painful ulcers interfere with
eating trying sipping liquid or pureed foods through a straw. Foods that
cause the least pain include jello, yogurt, custard, rice, and poached
For recurrent or severe ulcers, a dentist may prescribe a protective
paste to speed healing.