Mouth ulcers—also called canker sores—are small, painful sores, usually red or yellow, that can develop on the insides of the cheeks and lips, on the tongue and gums, or, rarely, on the roof of the mouth. Ulcers are most common in women and people under 45. Minor growths vary in size from about two to 8 millimeters and usually clear up within two weeks. Major ulcers are bigger and deeper, take several weeks to heal, and may leave a scar. There are many reasons a person may develop a mouth ulcer.

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1. Stress or lack of sleep

One major cause of mouth ulcers is stress or lack of sleep, with an estimated average of 20% of adults who experience ulcers during stressful periods in their lives. One speculation as to why ulcers appear during these times is related to a drop in immunity which creates more vulnerability in the mouth.

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