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A deficiency of vitamin B12, folic acid, iron or zinc can also increase the likelihood of developing ulcers in the mouth. These vitamins and minerals play an important role in the maturation of the collagen fibers and ground matrix, which form the structure binding the cells together. They also help in the maturation process of these cells. All of these functions are compromised when there is a nutritional deficiency and thus, the natural defenses against viral infection, trauma, and other minor insults are not at maximum capacity.
If an ulcer does not heal over a long period of time or has edges that seem to be necrotized and foul smelling then immediate medical attention is warranted. The incidence of oral cancer is extremely high, especially in people who are heavy tobacco users. Usually, there will be other symptoms that appear prior to the appearance of oral cancer like whitish striations on the check, a burning sensation in the mouth and/or a reduction in the mouth opening.
Squamous cell carcinoma, which begins as a non-healing ulcer, is very aggressive and can spread quickly by causing the destruction of the nearby structures. If the doctor suspects that the ulcer may be cancerous, then a confirmatory biopsy will be performed followed b y surgical removal of the ulcer. Surgeons take a wide margin of healthy tissue around the ulcer during surgery to ensure that no cancer cells get left behind. The extent of the surgery will depend on the stage at which cancer has been caught. Some doctors may also choose to do a course of chemotherapy following the surgical treatment.
Management Of Ulcers
Non-cancerous ulcers are managed in a conservative manner and only through symptomatic treatment. The idea behind the treatment is to make the patient comfortable and pain-free as the lesion resolves on its own.
Doctors will prescribe the use of topical analgesics and topical steroid ointments to be applied to the lesion. They will also do a clinical assessment to make sure that there is no offending cusp or sharp edge that is causing recurring injury.
There may be an indication of prescription painkillers in case the patient is finding little or no relief with topical ointments.
Can Ulcers Be prevented?
This is a very common question and the answer is not very simple. It is very difficult to prevent against something that you do not know the exact cause of, however, there are some common sense practices that will help minimize the likelihood of developing ulcers. People who suffer from frequent mouth ulcers should avoid spicy food, stick to oral hygiene brands that they have been using for a long time, avoid chewing gum and other flavored mints as well as keep a high level of oral hygiene. Any cavities in the mouth should also be filled so that there is no food that is getting lodged anywhere and allowing bacterial colonies to prosper. There is nothing much else that anyone can do.