Mouth ulcers - Treatment 

Treating mouth ulcers 

Most mouth ulcers don't require specific treatment, as they will usually heal on their own within 10-14 days.

However, treatment may be necessary if your ulcers are severe, painful or interfere with your daily activities (such as eating).

If your mouth ulcers are thought to be the result of an underlying condition, you may need to be referred to a specialist so the condition can be treated.

Self-help tips

If you have a mild mouth ulcer, there are some steps you can take yourself to help your ulcer heal more quickly:

  • Use a soft toothbrush when brushing your teeth.
  • Avoid hard, sharp, spicy and acidic foods and drinks until the ulcer heals – stick to soft foods that are easier to chew.
  • Avoid things that you think may be triggering your ulcers, such as specific foods. Read about the causes of mouth ulcers for more information about potential triggers.
  • Reduce your stress levels by doing an activity that you find relaxing, such as yoga, meditation or exercise. Read more about relaxation tips to avoid stress.

If your ulcer has a specific physical cause, such as a sharp tooth or filling cutting the inside of your cheek, it will usually heal naturally once the cause has been treated. If you suspect that a sharp tooth or filling has caused an ulcer, visit your dentist so that they can repair it.

Medication

If necessary, your GP or dentist can prescribe medication that may help ease your symptoms.

Some mouth ulcer treatments can also be bought without a prescription from your local pharmacy, although you should speak to your pharmacist about which medicine may be best for you. Some treatments aren't suitable for children or for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant.

The main treatments for mouth ulcers are described below, although the evidence supporting their use is limited. These treatments also won't stop you developing new mouth ulcers in the future.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are a type of medication that reduces inflammation. They can help reduce pain associated with mouth ulcers and help them heal faster.

Corticosteroids are available in many different forms, including mouthwashes and sprays.

You should speak to your GP for advice before using corticosteroid medications for mouth ulcers in children under 12 years old.

Antimicrobial mouthwash

Antimicrobial mouthwash helps kill bacteria, viruses or fungi that could infect the ulcer, particularly if a painful mouth ulcer means you are unable to brush your teeth properly. They may also help speed up healing.

Chlorhexidine gluconate is the most commonly prescribed mouthwash, although various gels and sprays are also available.

Chlorhexidine gluconate is normally used twice a day. After using chlorhexidine gluconate, you may notice that your teeth are covered in a brown stain. This staining is not permanent, and your teeth should return to their normal colour once you finish the treatment.

The best way to prevent staining is to brush your teeth before using chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash. However, after brushing your teeth make sure that you thoroughly rinse your mouth out with water before using the mouthwash.

Chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash should not be used by infants under two years old.

Painkillers

If your mouth ulcer is very painful, your GP may prescribe a painkiller that you can apply directly to your ulcer. These are available as mouthwashes, sprays, lozenges and gels.

Your GP will usually prescribe benzydamine, which is available as a mouthwash or spray. However, the mouthwash is not suitable for children under 12 years of age and shouldn't usually be used for more than seven days in a row.

Benzydamine mouthwashes and sprays may also sting when you first use them, but this should lessen as you continue to use them. You may find it useful to dilute the mouthwash with an equal amount of water before using it if stinging is a problem. If the stinging persists, your pharmacist or GP may recommend stopping treatment.

You may also find that your mouth feels numb when you first use enzydamine mouthwashes and sprays. This is normal and the feeling will soon return to your mouth.


Page last reviewed: 06/03/2014

Next review due: 06/03/2016

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Comments

The 11 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

gorf said on 30 January 2013

Gargle with salt water. You should find that it works a treat. Salt is cheap and easy to get hold of and we all have it at home, so no need to splash out and spend lots of money on expensive mouth ulcer creams

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bclare said on 18 September 2012

I have had mouth ulcers frequently for most of my life. It is possible eating cheese or sugary sweets may be a trigger. I would just confirm that the only effective treatment I found was the (corticosteroid) Adcortyl in Orabase, but this was discontinued by Sqibb (the makers). However, it is possible to source the same medication (known as Kanolone) from Thailand and imported to the UK. It can cost between £4.50 to £9.00 per 5gm tube.
bclare

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Oofus said on 08 August 2012

I have suffered with mouth ulcers most of my life and Im nearly 40. As soon as one goes another comes and Ive tried everything, toothpaste included.
During multiple trips to the dentist for some treatment my dentist noticed that I always had ulcers, I just said it was always like that. He said its not normal and I should have a blood test. When I chased up my blood tests the receptionist said they were normal but I said I had to see the dr to discuss other plans. It was a locum dr that day and she said my bloods did not look normal they were just satisfactory, she said the iron levels should be higher. I have been on iron tablets, 1 a day now for a few months and almost instantly the mouth ulcers went away. Now I just get the odd one if Im run down and it lasts a few days. It also responds to treatment unlike before when it seemed that putting anything on it made it worse.

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sliprose said on 18 June 2012

In response to Lissybeth I also am waking up at night with the pain of my ulcers and have ear ache. I have had ulcers before but never as bad as this. It can really get you down. My doctor gave me a mouthwash and when it didnt work has now given me tablets to hold in my mouth against the ulcers. I hope this works as I do not want to suffer with ulcers for years as when reading some of your comments have discovered the length of time some of you have suffered. I do like chocolate and hope this is not the reason I am suffering so much. I am going to try the sarakan toothpaste and see if it helps too.

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Lizzybeth18 said on 11 June 2012

Also, I'm interested to know whether anyone else out there is ever kept awake at night by the pain of their ulcers or if the pain ever gives them ear ache? This happens to me a lot and have to be the worst side effects of getting ulcers :(

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Lizzybeth18 said on 11 June 2012

I've suffered with mouth ulcers since I was about 6 or 7 (I am now nearly 21) and have literally tried every single treatment out there with never any success from a disgusting white wallpaper paste from the dentist and corsodyl mouthwash. But a few years ago I read on a mouth ulcer forum website about SLS in 'normal' toothpastes and someone suggested changing to Sarakan which you can buy from Holland and Barratt and many other health shops. I noticed a dramatic difference quite quickly from getting ulcers constantly to now not getting them very often at all! I do still get them but can usually relate them to times of high stress or lack of sleep ect. So to anyone out there who is suffering from persistent mouth ulcers, I highly recommend changing your toothpaste to Sarakan or any other non SLS containing toothpaste. Just this small change should hopefully make a big difference to your life.
Even more evidence which points towards this. Last week I ran out of my Sarakan and unfortunately did not have time to go and buy any. So for four days I had to use 'normal' colgate toothpaste (which now tastes disgusting to me!) until I managed to go out and get some Sarakan and within two days I had two large ulcers appear on the inside of both of my cheeks right where my teeth close. 3 days later I am still in agony with them, they are keeping me awake at night and eating food is like a military operation with having to apply bongela every 5 mins just to be able to eat the meal :(
So yes the moral of this story is, change your toothpaste and hopefully change your life!!

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zoe007 said on 25 May 2011

I recently got some mouth ulcers on inside of my cheek and after 2 days of the normal bonjela and salt water it got infected and spread to my jaw and i couldnt eat drink anything or talk properly as my jaw and mouth was swollen and couldnt open it.
had go to doctors who gave me anti biotics which i ended up on 4 2 weeks, i finished them last week and now its back again in the same spot but luckly not in my jaw just on my cheek again but now also have 4 under my tongue and 1 on tip of it.
i use corsodyl mouthwash anyway but still no better but defo no worse.
i notcied some1 put about Sodium lauryl sulphite (SLS) in their toothpaste i noticed mine has it and have now gone back to using corsodyl toothpaste as thats not in theirs.
if it is the toothpaste that is doing this how soon will i see inprovements do u think?

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amcell said on 12 March 2011

I agree with the advice above! I don't know why more dentists do not recommend this. After more than 20 years of regular mouth ulcers, I switched to Pronamel toothpaste last July. It does not contain Sodium lauryl sulphite (SLS). No mouth ulcers sicne then!

If anyone gets mouth ulcers often, try a toothpaste with no SLS!

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zangel said on 15 February 2011

This Dr Organic toothpaste sounds good but is it good for sensitive gums and teeth as in Sensodyne. Really helpful to know as tired of buying stuff that sits on shelf.

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Mimi Pinson said on 07 January 2011

Well worth giving it a go as I always thought cleaning my teeth regurlarly was helping !
Thanks.

Mimi Pinson

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DAZJC said on 03 September 2009

I am 28 years of age and have suffered weekly with mouth ulcers pretty much all my life. I have had countless blood tests, trip to the doctors/dentists and nothing concrete to assist with treatment and prevention. Ive used salt water, mouth washes such as Corsodyl, bongela. tried to have more sleep drink less acidic drinks. Most of the treatments/cures etc ive tried. Then one day I spent a few hours on the internet as I had had enough of them, I enjoy my food and drinks etc and this was becoming ever increasingly painful and disrupting my life. I heard of a chemical known as Sodium lauryl sulphite (SLS) which is found prodominently in most common toothpastes. It effects the cells in the mouths of some people which then causes sores then subsequent ulcers. It is used to froth the toothpaste in the mouth when brushing. I went to a normal health foods shop like GNC, Holland and Barratt etc and bought Dr Organic toothpaste which doesnt conatin SLS, its very good and minty and contains natural substences and whiteners. I have used it for 6 weeks and havent had an ulcer since. Its fantastic now and such a simple step to an ulcer free life. its worth a go.

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