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The Dental Detective

Case 9:The mystery behind recurrent mouth ulcers

mouth ulcers

A 28-year-old IT professional came in for a regular teeth cleaning procedure. A casual conversation revealed that he managed to squeeze some time for this procedure as he was a frequent traveller literally living out of a suitcase across time zones for many years.

On examining the mouth, I noticed a few ulcers distributed across the mouth. The patient said not to worry about them as he has been suffering with recurrent ulcers “ever since he went to college”. And now he has just learned to live with them.

I managed to finish cleaning his teeth by avoiding the ulcers with utmost care. With the patient’s permission I then used a laser light to apply a “laser bandage” on the ulcers to accelerate healing.

Once done we moved to my desk for a small chat. “Living with recurrent ulcers is a painful option.” I said. To which the patient replied “Well, what other choice do I have? I’ve had them for so long and I have tried every over-the-counter remedy from multi vitamins to topical numbing gels, but they keep coming back.” I noticed he had indicated that he had gastric acidity on his medical record form. I suggested he visit a gastro-enterologist at the earliest.

My patient heeded to my advice and as it turns out he had a small polyp at the base of his food pipe which was discovered after an endoscopy. He also had a bacterial infection of the stomach called H Pylori which tends to increase gastric acidity. This acid was regurgitating back into the mouth while he slept and this was causing the ulcers in the mouth. Once the H Pylori was treated with some systemic antibiotics the patient’s acidity was cured and he had permanent relief from those bothersome ulcers.

This case demonstrates the delicate connection between one’s systemic and oral health. Every part of the human body is equally important and sometimes healing one part provides healing to another!

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