What Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Mouth Ulcers?

Man holding his face with his hand while wincing in pain

Are you worried about frequent mouth ulcers? These canker sores are a hassle to deal with when they appear as small, painful lesions in your mouth. Mouth ulcers are so common an occurrence that they often get ignored by many. But what if they don’t disappear soon, or if they persistently appear, making it extremely uncomfortable to eat, drink and even talk? Although no exact cause has been found for the condition, it is often associated with stress, injury, and medical conditions. Although in many cases the underlying issues are benign, on rare occasions, it can even be a sign of oral cancer. Frequent ulcers without an apparent cause can most likely mean that you have vitamin deficiencies. Read on to find out which vitamin deficiencies might be contributing to the pesky sores you get and how to fix them.

Vitamins for Oral Health

Vitamins are essential nutrients needed for the entire body’s proper function, including the mouth’s mucous membranes. Deficiencies in certain vitamins can lead to weakened immune responses, slower healing processes, and increased susceptibility to infections and ulcers. 

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells and has a significant part to play in nerve function. A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to pernicious anaemia,  which causes fatigue and neurological issues. One of the oral manifestations of this deficiency is the development of mouth ulcers. Its effects on the DNA production in the mucous membrane will lead to cell death and ulcer formation. Those who have conditions like pernicious anaemia, or Crohn’s disease or have had gastrointestinal surgeries are particularly at risk. 

Make sure to consume more seafood, red meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products as they are excellent sources of Vitamin B12. Almonds, walnuts, dates and certain fruits can also help increase your Cobalamin levels.

Vitamin B9 (Folate)

Folate is a B vitamin that is important for DNA synthesis and repair, similar to B12. Ulcers form due to this deficiency as it impairs the regeneration of cells in the mouth. It can often be seen in individuals with poor dietary intake, certain gastrointestinal conditions and those who consume high levels of alcohol. Medications taken by pregnant women that interfere with folate metabolism can also create a risk of deficiency. Ensuring adequate folate intake through a diet rich in fibre is crucial. Leafy greens, legumes, and micronutrient-rich food are great for preventing ulcers associated with this deficiency.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 is important for the maintenance of healthy skin, digestive tract lining, brain function and oral health. Ariboflavinosis, the deficiency of vitamin B2, is characterised by skin disorders, hair loss, sore throat and oedema, lesions and ulcers in the mouth. Riboflavin deficiency occurs in individuals with poor diet, vitamin absorption conditions and chronic alcoholism. Intake of riboflavin-rich foods like dairy, eggs, lean meats, and green vegetables can help prevent and alleviate symptoms of riboflavin deficiency.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is important for DNA repair and digestive system function, skin, and nerves. A severe deficiency in niacin leads to Pellagra, a condition characterised by diarrhoea, dermatitis, dementia, and even death if left untreated. One of the oral symptoms of this disease is the development of mouth ulcers. Niacin deficiency is more common in areas where maize is a staple food, having to do with its low levels of the vitamin. Supplementing the diet with niacin-rich foods such as meat, fish, nuts, and grains can prevent the occurrence of mouth ulcers related to this deficiency. 

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant with a large number of health benefits. The lack of it can cause scurvy, a condition that may cause bleeding gums, loose gums and mouth ulcers.

A deficiency in vitamin C can occur in individuals with severely limited dietary intake of fruits and vegetables. Increasing the consumption of citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, bell peppers, and leafy greens can help prevent vitamin C deficiency and its associated symptoms, including mouth ulcers.

Prevention of Mouth Ulcers

As the saying goes “you are what you eat”. This cannot ring more true when it comes to the link between your diet and your overall health. A balanced diet is vital for having adequate vitamin levels to prevent ulcer formation. Be watchful of what you eat and keep a balance between the micros and macros in your diet. 

Taking supplements to meet the required levels of nutrients is the right call for some, with the consultation of medical professionals. For those who have weak absorption of vitamins and minerals, vegetarians and vegans can benefit a lot from these supplements. 

Treating Mouth Ulcers 

If you are experiencing mouth ulcers, it is important to address underlying health issues to completely treat it. However, in the meantime, at-home remedies can help lower the pain and promote healing. Some of these methods are,

Saltwater Rinses

 Make a solution by mixing water and salt. Gargle it several times a day to help reduce inflammation and bacteria.

Avoiding Irritants

Until the ulcers heal, it can be recommended to eat only bland meals without an array of spices that can irritate them. Spicy and acidic food should be avoided.

Topical Treatments

If the ulcer bothers you, a dental professional should be consulted to get treatment. Over-the-counter gels and ointments may provide pain relief and quick healing.

Mouth ulcers can be a frustrating condition that leaves you unsure of your next step. Although they are common, the relentlessly reappearing ones and those that don’t heal fast on their own should be medically addressed to upkeep your general well-being and oral health.

Worried about the treatments available for mouth ulcers? Do not hesitate to contact our team at SDG Dental for support!