It is finally breakfast time. You take the sandwich from your satchel, unwrap one end, ‘will it be ham? Will it be cheese?… Great! It is tuna fish’, you grab it with both hands, open your mouth, and… Ow! With your first bite your teeth also caught half a cheek. As well as it being terribly painful, you know that you will end up with a good sore that will bother you for a few days.
The truth is that no one is completely alien to the world of aphthae.
Aphthae are round or oval small wounds that appear in your mouth. They are also called sores or ulcers.
Usually they are 2 to 8 mm in diameter. It is amazing that they are so small, because when you rub them with your tongue or your teeth, it feels as if you had a golf-ball in your mouth.
Aphthae appear on your inner cheeks, your tongue, your palate, or on your lower gums. They are yellow or white, surrounded by a redder area.
Usually, only one appears, but, occasionally, you could have more than 20 at a time!
Although they are annoying, we do not need to worry when we have them. Most of them heal by themselves, without leaving any scars.
Why do they appear?
Aphthae are small wounds that we cause ourselves inside the mouth. How? Well, in most cases when we bite our cheek or our tongue, as a result of using a toothbrush which is too hard, or rubbing with our braces. This does not mean that aphthae will necessarily appear if we bite ourselves, when we brush our teeth or if we wear braces.
Those suffering from Coeliac disease – i.e. allergic to gluten among other symptoms – are more prone to develop sores in the mouth.
To be nervous is also conducive to aphthae. That is why many students have them during exam periods.
How can we detect aphthae?
Before an aphtha appears, you may feel itchiness or a tingling sensation in your mouth. When the sore has already appeared it may be painful, and bothersome when you speak, eat or drink.
To have aphthae is no excuse to miss school. Usually they are small, and not so terribly painful to prevent you from doing anything. Therefore, one must be patient, and wait for them to go away.
For a few days, the aphtha will go with you everywhere.
What can we do when we have aphthae?
It is advisable to use a soft toothbrush, to eat soft things (yes, Swiss chard is soft…), to avoid hot, peppery or acid ingredients.
If you are very nervous, try doing some relaxing exercises. Your chemist can recommend useful products to reduce the pain.
You only see your doctor when you have aphthae in very exceptional cases.
Aphthae are not contagious among people. They do not appear after kissing somebody, or sharing the same glass.