What Causes Mouth Ulcers & How To Treat Them?

Mouth ulcers are a common—and painful—medical condition, but they can be caused by a number of different factors and can sometimes be a sign of a health concern. This article will explain the most common causes of ulcers and how to treat them.

What causes mouth ulcers?

Oral thrush

Oral thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth. It is also called candidiasis, which can affect the tongue and other areas of your mouth. Oral thrush causes redness, swelling, pain and white patches on your tongue that may look like cottage cheese or yoghurt.

If you think you have an oral thrush, ask your doctor how to treat it with over-the-counter medications or prescription medications if they are needed.

If this happens to you frequently then check with medical professionals who might suggest taking antibiotics before getting sick again so there’s less risk involved when treating yourself at home using natural methods (like using over-the-counter creams).


Leukoplakia is a thickening of the mucous membrane in your mouth. It can appear as white, red, or grey patches on the tongue, the inside of cheeks and lips, the side of your throat (pharynx), or the soft palate (the back part of your mouth). It may be flat or raised.

In most cases, leukoplakia causes no symptoms. However, some people notice an unpleasant sensation in their mouths if they press on it with their tongue. Rarely does it lead to cancer but it could possibly be an early sign of this disease if you have any other symptoms such as hoarseness or swallowing difficulties.

Lichen planus

Lichen planus is an inflammatory skin condition that causes itchy, flat or raised red patches to appear on the inside of your mouth. Lichen planus sometimes affects other parts of your body as well.

These patches may be white or grey in colour, and they have a smooth or scaly texture. The rash is usually symmetrical, meaning that it occurs on both sides of your body at the same time.

Other causes of mouth ulcers

There are a few other things that can cause mouth ulcers to occur, such as:

  • Biting the inside lining of your cheek
  • Allergies
  • Cuts or burns inside your mouth
  • Hormonal changes – e.g. uncontrolled diabetes
  • Stress
  • Radiotherapy to the head and neck region
  • Aphthous ulcers
  • Autoimmune conditions – where the salivary glands produce less than normal saliva

It’s important to remember that not all ulcers are caused by the same thing. It is crucial to find out what is causing your ulcer and treat it accordingly so that you can heal faster. 

If you persistently experience mouth ulcers or they seem to last longer than usual, it might be worth getting in touch with Mr. Olarinde at ENT Sheffield by booking a consultation or calling 0114 321 5622 to discuss treatment options.