Chilton Medical Center - ATLANTIC HEALTH SYSTEM
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)  font size
PrintEmail
Search Health Information   

Oral thrush
Oral thrush


Canker sore (aphthous ulcer)
Canker sore (aphthous ulcer)


Lichen planus on the oral mucosa
Lichen planus on the oral mucosa


Mouth sores
Mouth sores


Mouth ulcers

Definition:

Mouth ulcers are sores or open lesions in the mouth.



Alternative Names:

Oral ulcer; Stomatitis - ulcerative; Ulcer - mouth



Causes:

Mouth ulcers are caused by many disorders. These include:

A skin sore caused by histoplasmosis may also appear as a mouth ulcer.



Symptoms:

Symptoms will vary, based on the cause of the mouth ulcer. Symptoms may include:

  • Open sores in the mouth
  • Pain or discomfort in the mouth


Exams and Tests:

Most of the time, a health care provider or dentist will look the ulcer and where it is in the mouth to make the diagnosis. You may need blood tests or a biopsy of the ulcer may be needed to confirm the cause.



Treatment:

The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.

  • The underlying cause of the ulcer should be treated if it is known.
  • Gently cleaning your mouth and teeth may help relieve your symptoms.
  • Medicines that you rub directly on the ulcer such as antihistamines, antacids, and corticosteroids may help soothe discomfort.
  • Avoid hot or spicy foods until the ulcer is healed.


Outlook (Prognosis):

The outcome varies depending on the cause of the ulcer. Many mouth ulcers are harmless and heal without treatment.

Some types of cancer that may first appear as a mouth ulcer that does not heal.



Possible Complications:
  • Cellulitis of the mouth, from secondary bacterial infection of ulcers
  • Dental infections (tooth abscesses )
  • Oral cancer
  • Spread of contagious disorders to other people


When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider if:

  • A mouth ulcer does not go away after 3 weeks
  • You have mouth ulcers return often, or if new symptoms develop


Prevention:

To help prevent mouth ulcers and complications from them:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day.
  • Get regular dental cleanings and checkups.


References:

Daniels TE. Diseases of the mouth and salivary glands. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 433.

Mirowski GW, Mark LA. Oral disease and oral-cutaneous manifestations of gastrointestinal and liver disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 22.




Review Date: 1/21/2013
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Morristown Medical Center
100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center
99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center
175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center
97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Goryeb Children's Hospital
100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Atlantic Medical Group
1-800-247-9580

Morristown Medical Center

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center

97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Goryeb Children's Hospital

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Affiliated Providers

Atlantic Medical Group

More than 600 community-based health care providers.
1-800-247-9580

© 2015 Chilton Medical Center, 97 West Parkway, Pompton Plains, New Jersey 1-973-831-5000