While often the result of an actual injury like biting the cheek or the irritation of a sharp orthodontic wire, a mouth ulcer can also be caused by certain drugs, chemical sensitivity, diseases, or as a side effect of medical treatment like chemotherapy. A mouth ulcer such as a canker sore, which is also known as an aphthous ulcer, may even be triggered by stress and anxiety or hormonal changes.
According to statistics, up to 1 in 5 people get recurrent mouth ulcers. There are several underlying health conditions that can lead to the development of mouth ulcers including the following:
- Nutritional problems like vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid or iron deficiency
- Gastrointestinal tract diseases such as Crohn’s disease & coeliac disease
- An impaired immune system due to diseases such as HIV or Lupus
- Reactive arthritis
- Certain viral infections such as cold sore virus, chickenpox, as well as hand, foot, and mouth disease in young children
It is important to be aware that occasionally, a long-lasting mouth sore may be a sign of oral cancer. A biopsy or tissue sample may be recommended when suspicious lesions in the oral cavity are present. Early detection and treatment are the best ways to ensure the most favorable outcome of care.