What is aphthous stomatitis?

afte orali

What is Aphthous stomatitis?

Aphthous stomatitis or aphthous ulcers are small lesions that may form on the soft tissue of the oral mucosa and gums.
They can be visible in the mouth as they are small, round/ ovoid ulcers that are whitish in colour with a round, raised and reddish border.
They are small in size and can be very painful, even making it difficult to speak or eat.
Usually a single or multiple ones appear, localised in the oral mucosa.
The underside of the lips and the tongue are the most commonly affected areas.
Diagnosis is based on exclusively clinical criteria.

What are the main causes of aphthous stomatitis?

Causes may include:

  • Accidental injury, such as biting your lip or tongue.
  • Lesions caused by brushing your teeth too hard.
  • Vitamin B12, zinc, iron and folic acid deficiency.
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Autoimmune syndromes
  • Very acidic or spicy foods
  • Mouth coming into contact with dirty surfaces.

How do they arise and what are the symptoms of aphthous stomatitis?

Despite being small in size, aphthous ulcers cause extreme discomfort.

Often their onset is preceded by a preliminary phase, characterised by burning and tingling sensations which appear one or two days earlier in the area where the lesion will form. This initial phase is followed by erythema in the mucosa of the affected area, followed by ulcerisation, resulting in a round or ovular lesion that is yellowish with a red border.
Main symptoms include:
  • Pain, ranging from mild to very strong, which may make talking or eating difficult.
  • Reddening of the area around the ulcer.
  • Burning sensation.
  • Fever, when ulcers are large and widespread.

How to treat a mouth ulcer?

Usually there is no need to resort to specific treatments, as mouth ulcers heal spontaneously in the space of a few days.
However, it is recommended that you stick to certain behaviours that can speed up the disappearance of such ulcers, such as correct oral hygiene, mineral-vitamin supplements, avoiding foods which potentially trigger the condition.

How to prevent the formation of mouth ulcers?

The best way to prevent them is thorough oral hygiene on a daily basis, involving the brushing of all dental and tongue surfaces. Just like with natural teeth, dentures require daily hygiene practices to protect the health of the oral mucosa.
Avoiding particularly acidic or spicy foods may also help.

Is it true that only children are affected by mouth ulcers?

No, mouth ulcers can occur in people of all ages, young and old, and can be recurring!
However it is true that children with braces may be more susceptible to developing aphthous lesions due to greater difficulties in oral hygiene.
To prevent their formation, ensure your child carries out effective oral hygiene practices every single day!

Ref. ANDI:


Article by:
Dr. Francesca Cammarelle – OMCEO PG n.985
Dr. Federica Casini 

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