Mouth ulcers can be painful, which can make it uncomfortable to eat, drink or brush your teeth.
It's usually safe to treat mouth ulcers at home. See your GP or dentist
your mouth ulcer
has lasted three weeks
you keep getting mouth ulcers
your mouth ulcer becomes more painful or red – this could be a sign of a bacterial infection
, which may need treatment with antibiotics
Mouth ulcers are also a possible symptom of a viral infection
that mainly affects young children, called hand, foot and mouth disease. Speak to your GP or call NHS 111 if you're unsure.
Read about the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease.
How to treat mouth ulcers
Mouth ulcers don’t usually need to be treated, because they tend to clear up by themselves within a week or two.
However, treatment can help to reduce swelling
and ease any discomfort. This may help if you keep getting mouth ulcers or your mouth ulcer affects eating and drinking.
Things you can do to speed up healing include:
applying a protective paste recommended by your pharmacist
using a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth
using a toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulphate, as this may be irritating avoiding hard, spicy, salty, acidic or hot food and drink until the ulcer heals
using a straw to drink cool drinks
avoiding things that may be triggering your mouth ulcers – see causes, below
You can buy several types of mouth ulcer treatment from a pharmacy. Speak to your pharmacist about the best treatment for you. Options include the following:
Antimicrobial mouthwash may speed up healing and prevent infection of the ulcer. Children under two shouldn't use this treatment. It also contains chlorexidine gluconate
, which may stain teeth – but this may fade once treatment is finished. Painkillers are available as a mouthwash, lozenge, gel or spray. They can sting on first use and your mouth may feel numb – but this is temporary. Mouthwash can be diluted with water if stinging continues. Children under 12 shouldn’t use mouthwash or gel. Mouthwash shouldn't be used for more than seven days in a row.
Corticosteroid lozenges may reduce pain and speed up healing. These are best used as soon as the ulcer appears, but shouldn't be used by children under 12.
Medicines from your dentist or GP
If necessary, you may be prescribed a course of stronger corticosteroids to help reduce pain and swelling, and speed up healing.
Corticosteroids are available on prescription as tablets, mouthwash, paste or spray, but are not suitable for children under 12.