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A case of recurrent mouth ulcers

"I have done all the tests to diagnose my oral ulcers and all are negative. The ulcers keep coming back. What do I do?"

I was referred an interesting case once. During dental consultation, patient said he had recurrent mouth ulcers. He had got all the tests done, even biopsy to rule out cancer for these annoying ulcers. Everything was negative. His dentist had put him on standard treatment protocol for oral mucosal ulcers without much success. When he came to me, he was confused and frustrated with his recurrent ulcers.

A Recall From Childhood Diaries

When we were young, whenever there was an ulcer in the mouth, my mother would say, “you need to clean your stomach. A lot of waste has accumulated there.” And then, she would give us Triphala decoction to drink, the ulcer would not come back. I did not know the reason behind this household practice of “cleaning” the digestive system to cure mouth ulcers.

After I became dentist (Gum specialist), I had a different way of looking at mouth ulcers. Our training said that the ulcers occur due to nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, some infectious diseases, in people with low immunity, and most importantly stress, which may be responsible for all the above-mentioned causes.  Apparently the root cause of ulcers appearing in the mouth would be somewhere else in the body. As a dentist, I did not know how to find the cause of an oral ulcer in the body and treat that cause, when all the tests are normal.

Ulcers are caused by stress

It would be interesting to note that not all people under stress develop these or any other stress related oral problems. They seem to handle stressful situations very well and their bodies and minds are well adapted to handle any stressful condition.

When I started to practice Integrative Dentistry, we started handling cases of oral ulcers with Ayurveda integration. According to Ayurveda, all the disease conditions start in the system. Sometimes the target organ is mouth.

They have very well explained diagnostic procedures and treatments for conditions like this. They cannot remove stress from a person’s life but they can help boosting their immunity and prepare the body to handle stress better. They also prescribe specific Yoga therapy to strengthen the mind to handle a stressful situation. All the treatments are customized for individual patients. The ulcers don’t disappear overnight. The severity and frequency gradually reduce and eventually ulcers go away.

I learnt that someone else has a different way of looking at an oral ulcer and expertise to handle it better than me.

This is what integrative dentistry is about!

Accept and integrate other health sciences for the benefit of the patients. By the way, the patient mentioned above having recurrent ulcers, is under Ayurveda care now.

So why was my mother giving us Triphala decoction? Our Shalakya doctor says that Triphala is very important medicine to rectify Tridosha imbalance and extensively used to treat various oral diseases. We will discuss Triphala in another blog. Keep reading!

Dr. Vaibhavi Joshipura

Periodontist (Gum Specialist) MDS, Periodontics/Periodontology, PhD. Periodontics/Periodontology