Aphtha: What is it, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Small, shallow lesions that occur in the soft tissues in the mouth or at the base of the gums are called aphtha. These lesions can, in some cases, cause extreme pain and difficulty in eating and speaking. Canker sores do not occur on the surface of the lips and are not transmitted from person to person. In this respect, aphtha formation differs from herpes. Most canker sores can heal on their own within a week or two. Aphthous ulcers that continue to grow over time and do not show any improvement may be risky for health. It is important for these types of canker sores to be evaluated by a doctor.
What are the symptoms of canker sores?
Oral lesions called canker sores show a white or yellow formation on the inside, while they may be characterized by a red round or oval frame on the outside. These lesions, which occur inside the mouth, can appear on the upper or lower side of the tongue, on the inside of the cheeks or lips, at the base of the gums or on the soft palate. Symptoms such as tingling or burning may occur a few days before aphtha formation. Some of the other symptoms that may occur as a result of aphtha formation are as follows:
- Painful sores that appear alone or in clusters inside the mouth,
- High fever accompanying wound formation,
- swelling of lymph nodes,
- Difficulty speaking or swallowing.
The symptoms that occur as a result of aphtha formation can negatively affect the person’s daily life routine.
What are the types of canker sores?
There are different types of canker sores depending on the size of the wound in the mouth and the symptoms it causes. Some of the types of canker sores are as follows:
- Small Canker Sores: Small canker sores can also be called minor canker sores. These canker sores, which are generally seen in young people between the ages of 10 and 20 and are smaller than 1cm in diameter, tend to heal spontaneously within about a week.
- Major Canker Sores: Large canker sores, also called major canker sores, tend to occur less frequently than minor canker sores. The wounds in this type of canker sores can be larger than 1 cm and may take longer than two weeks to heal. After healing, large scars may appear in the area where the aphthous ulcer occurs.
- Herpetiform canker sores: Herpetiform canker sores, which are a less common type of canker sores than minor and major canker sores, usually occur in adults. These canker sores, which heal spontaneously within a week or two without leaving a scar, may have irregular edges.
What are the causes of canker sores?
The factors that cause the formation of aphthous ulcers, which appear as lesions in the mouth, have not yet been clearly determined. However, some factors may trigger the formation of sores in the mouth. Some of these factors are as follows:
- Failure to maintain the necessary hygiene during dental treatment,
- Brushing teeth in a way that may damage the inside of the mouth,
- Zinc deficiency,
- Sores in the mouth due to reasons such as biting the cheek,
- Use of toothpaste with inappropriate content,
- Not having enough folic acid (folate) in the body,
- Some consumed foods cause sensitivity in the body,
- Iron deficiency in the body,
- Vitamin B12 being lower than the normal value range,
- An allergic reaction to certain bacteria in the mouth,
- Bacteria that can cause ulcers (sores), such as Helicobacter pylori
- Hormonal changes during menstruation,
- Emotional stress.
As a result of such factors, wound formation in the mouth may occur, and some conditions and diseases may also cause aphthous ulcers. Some of such situations are as follows:
- Celiac Disease: Gluten is a protein found naturally in many grain products. Celiac disease occurs as a result of the body’s sensitivity to this protein. Celiac disease can cause canker sores.
- Aphtha formation may occur as a result of some diseases that negatively affect the immune system (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis).
- Behçet’s disease: It is a disease that can cause wound formation on the body. As a result of Behçet’s disease, aphtha may occur in the mouth.
- A weak immune system may cause a decrease in the body’s defense mechanism against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. As a result, aphtha may occur in the mouth.
Proper and effective treatment of such diseases that cause sores in the mouth can help prevent aphtha formation.
Can Aphtha Formation Be Prevented?
Some precautions that can be taken can help prevent aphtha formation. Some of these measures are as follows:
- Paying Attention to the Foods Consumed: Some foods can cause irritation in the mouth. Careful consumption of foods that may cause irritation in the mouth can help prevent aphtha formation. In addition, aphtha may occur as a result of allergies caused by consuming foods to which the body is sensitive. Controlled consumption of foods that cause sensitivity in the body can help prevent aphtha formation.
- Healthy and Balanced Nutrition: A balanced diet of carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals can help prevent aphtha formation by supporting the body’s defense mechanism.
- Paying Attention to Oral Hygiene: Brushing your teeth regularly and paying attention to oral hygiene can help prevent the formation of sores in the mouth.
- Eliminating Stressful Situations: Mouth sores may occur as a result of stress. Managing stress correctly and staying away from stressful situations can help prevent stress-related aphtha.
How is canker sores diagnosed?
No tests may be needed to diagnose mouth ulcers. A physical examination by a doctor or dentist may be sufficient to identify canker sores. Aphthous formation may occur as a result of some diseases, and aphthous ulcers that occur as a result of a serious illness may not heal for a long time. Determining the factor that causes such canker sores and treating the underlying cause is important for wound healing. Some of the characteristics of mouth sores that may occur as a result of a serious disease are as follows:
- Wounds that spread to different areas in the mouth,
- Wounds lasting 3 weeks or longer
- Despite the use of painkillers, the pain does not decrease and becomes increasingly severe,
- High fever accompanying pardon.
Some blood values may need to be examined to determine the factor causing the sores in the mouth. Therefore, some blood tests may be requested by your doctor.
How is Aphthous Treatment Done?
Small canker sores may heal spontaneously within a week or two. Therefore, it may not be necessary to apply extra treatment for small aphthas. In addition, large canker sores that take time to heal and can cause severe pain may need medical treatment to heal. Some of the medical methods used in the treatment of aphtha are as follows:
- Applying Mouthwash: Mouthwash may be prescribed by the doctor to reduce pain and inflammation caused by sores in the mouth.
- Creams: Some creams suitable for oral use may be prescribed in the treatment of aphtha. The use of such creams can help heal wounds caused by canker sores.
- Medication Use: If the sores in the mouth do not heal with methods such as gargling or using cream, the doctor may recommend medication. Medication can help relieve severe pain resulting from the wound and help the wound heal faster.
- Cauterization of the Wounded Area: In some cases, the area where the aphtha occurs may be cauterized by the doctor to treat the aphthous formation.
- Use of Nutritional Supplements: If vitamin and mineral values such as folate, vitamin B6 and B12 or zinc are not within the required range in the body, it may cause aphtha formation. Nutritional supplements may be recommended by the doctor for vitamins and minerals in the low value range.
It is important to choose the appropriate treatment method in the healing of canker sores. Determining the planned treatment by a doctor can help ensure that the treatment is correct and effective. For this reason, it is important to consult a health institution when aphtha formation is observed.