Prevention And Treatment Of Mouth Ulcers Caused By Lupus

Dentist Blog

Systemic lupus erythematosus, more commonly known as SLE or simply lupus, can be a difficult illness to live with, not in the least because of how many parts of the body it can affect. As an autoimmune disorder, lupus has the potential to damage or promote illness within almost every tissue of the body. Even the mouth isn't safe, and lupus can provoke or exacerbate a number of dental disorders--the most common problem being mouth ulcers.

Mouth ulcers are a very common symptom of SLE, and due to the distinctive appearance of lupus-caused mouth ulcers (known as discoid lupus ulcers) they are often used as a basis for an initial lupus diagnosis. Discoid ulcers are usually (but not always) painless, unlike ordinary canker sores, and are distinguished by a white ring or 'halo' present on the ulcer itself. They usually occur on the roof of the mouth, but can also appear on the gums, cheeks, tongue and lips.

Mouth ulcer prevention

Even a painless mouth ulcer can uncomfortable, and can put a big dent in your self esteem, so you should try to avoid common risk factors associated with their appearance, These risk factors include:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Stress or fatigue caused by over-exertion
  • Trauma caused by stiff toothbrushes, improper flossing technique, or hard foods
  • Very acidic foods, such as citrus fruits
  • Excessive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, commonly used by lupus sufferers to manage joint pain and inflammation
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate, an additive used in some brands of toothpaste (only a small proportion of lupus sufferers are sensitive to this additive, but avoiding toothpastes containing the additive is generally the safest course of action)
  • Iron and/or vitamin B12 deficiency (consult your doctor before taking any supplements to counteract this)

Some medications commonly taken to alleviate other lupus symptoms, such as hydroxychloroquine or methotraxate, can induce discoid ulcers as a side effect, but it is important not to stop taking these medications if mouth ulcers appear. Seek medical advice instead, as you may be able to switch to different medications.

Treating mouth ulcers

If, despite your best efforts, discoid lupus ulcers appear, you do have a number of treatment options available. Before starting any treatment regimen, however, you should have your ulcers inspected by a dental professional familiar with the symptoms of lupus, who may be able to offer on-the-spot treatment. Common discoid ulcer treatments include:

  • Over the counter treatments for ordinary canker sores. These are generally more suited to treating pain and inflammation, and rarely cure a discoid ulcer by themselves.
  • Steroidal treatments. These may be in the form of topical gels, or may be directly injected into the ulcer by a doctor or dentist. In some cases you may also be offered steroidal lozenges that dissolve in the mouth.
  • Medicated mouthwashes, which help disinfect the ulcer and numb any discomfort.
  • Anti-malarial drugs, although these are generally only administered to patients suffering from particularly large or painful ulcers.

For more information, contact a dentist like those at Complete Dental Care.


20 November 2015

Dental Checkups: Preparing for Your Checkup

Hi! My name is Sarah, and as a busy professional, I understand the importance of making the most of my time. That includes everything from having productive working lunches to making the most of my dental checkups. I have created this blog to help you maximise your dental checkups. In these posts, you can learn how to prepare for your checkup, which questions to ask during your checkup and more. I am also going to have posts explaining why checkups are critical to your dental health as well as the health of your entire body. Happy reading, and thanks for visiting my blog!