Mouth ulcers — also known as canker sores — are normally small, painful lesions that develop in your mouth or at the base of your gums. They can make eating, drinking, and talking uncomfortable. Women (more than men), adolescents, and people with a family history of mouth ulcers are at higher risk for developing mouth ulcers.

Mouth ulcers aren’t contagious and usually go away within one to two weeks. However, if you get a canker sore that is large or extremely painful or if it lasts for a long time without healing, you should seek the advice of a doctor.

What Triggers Mouth Ulcers?

There is no definite cause behind mouth ulcers. However, certain factors and triggers have been identified. These include:

  • minor mouth injury from dental work, hard brushing, sports injury, or accidental bite
  • toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain sodium lauryl sulfate
  • food sensitivities to acidic foods like strawberries, citrus, and pineapples, and other trigger foods like chocolate and coffee
  • lack of essential vitamins, especially B-12, zinc, folate, and iron
  • allergic response to mouth bacteria
  • dental braces
  • hormonal changes during menstruation
  • emotional stress or lack of sleep
  • bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
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