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Pregnancy is a challenging phase and may bring about uncomfortable changes like mouth ulcers. Due to the lowered strength of the immune system and hormonal imbalances, mouth ulcers can commonly affect women during pregnancy. The good news, however, is that these ulcers are not a complication and can be managed and cured easily.
What Are Mouth Ulcers?
Also known as canker sores, these open sores ulcers also known as cold sores or Aphthous stomatitis, are small white or yellow spots present in and around the mouth that are surrounded by a circle of red. They can occur anytime during pregnancy.
Types of Mouth Ulcers
It may come as a surprise, but mouth ulcers also have types.
1. Minor Mouth Ulcers
This type is very common during pregnancy. Minor mouth ulcers usually measure approximately 2-9 mm. They may occur at the base of the mouth, and on the gums or tongue. For pregnant women, mouth and gum ulcers may take up to 10 days to heal, whereas tongue ulcers may take up to 12 days. Most of the time, they go away on their own.
2. Major Mouth Ulcers
Major mouth ulcers are quite uncommon in pregnant women. They have a diameter of about 10 mm and may take several weeks or months to heal. They may appear on the surface of the tongue, gums, base of the mouth and even in the throat. These ulcers can leave scars and be extremely painful. A way to manage and cure this type of mouth ulcer is to increase your water intake.
3. Herpetiform Ulcers
This type of ulcer is more a virus than a sore, it has a very small diameter of about 1 mm. These ulcer spots usually pop out in multiple places in clusters of dozens. It takes 2 or 3 weeks to heal and may leave behind a scar.
Ulcers can manifest anytime during pregnancy. If you know why they happen, prevention and cure become easy.
Stress is one of the main culprits of mouth ulcers.
An imbalanced diet that lacks essential vitamins like vitamin B12 and minerals like zinc or iron can also cause mouth ulcers.
3. Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation can cause hormonal and chemical imbalances in the body that have many side effects including mouth ulcers.
4. Change in Immunity
A weak immune system can cause an outbreak of mouth ulcers.
5. Hormonal Changes
A rapid change in hormones can alter the chemical composition of the body leading to mouth ulcers.
The most common symptom of a mouth ulcer is the wound inside the mouth. You can identify ulcers during pregnancy with symptoms like:
- Itchiness at the site of the ulcer
- A burning pain inside the mouth, especially on the tongue and base of the mouth
- Bad breath or mouth odour
- Difficulty in eating food and drinking liquids
Mouth ulcers during the third trimester of pregnancy can also cause a loss of energy, lethargy and in rare cases, it may cause bleeding of the gums.
You can treat mouth ulcers both naturally and with medication. Before using any medication, consult your gynaecologist and understand the risks if any. Ointments are the best way to treat ulcers but some contain steroids that may impact the pregnancy.
Natural Ways To Treat Mouth Ulcers
Apart from allopathic medicines, natural remedies for mouth ulcers also exist.
Turmeric is a great natural antiseptic and is anti-inflammatory too. It is a commonly used ingredient in Asian foods and is known in parts of India, Thailand, and Sri-Lanka for treating ulcers. There is no certainty how the effect of turmeric on ulcers has not been studied extensively outside this region.
2. Aloe Vera
This is a great ingredient, known to help prevent many diseases and infections as well as purifying the skin. Some believe that aloe is an outstanding cure for mouth ulcers, much like turmeric. However, there are not enough studies to guarantee this.
3. Salt Licorice
Licorice root is an impressive natural ingredient that has a large number of health benefits. The Nords believe that the sweet licorice purifies the digestive tract and salt licorice purifies the blood. Icelanders and Norwegians believe that salt licorice is also a great cure for mouth ulcers, there are no studies that back this up yet.
How To Prevent Mouth Ulcers?
These oral hygiene tips can help to prevent ulcers.
- Keep yourself hydrated and sleep well.
- Avoid spicy foods.
- Use mouthwash to kill bad bacteria.
- Floss regularly.
- Take vitamin B12 supplements if advised.
Dental hygiene and a good diet will help support and improve the immune system. Managing stress is also an important factor in combating mouth ulcers when pregnant. Doing prenatal yoga and spending some time meditating is an excellent way to balance out your hormones temporarily as well as managing stress long term.
Talk to your doctor before starting a new routine, implementing any alternative form of treatment or integrating new activities and foods into your diet. Never exceed dosages of prescribed medications or self-medicate. Mouth ulcers are not a serious health ailment that affect pregnancy. With the right treatment, an ulcer-free mouth is indeed possible.