Vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of vitamin B12 in the body.
A lack of B12 causes the body to produce abnormally large red blood cells that can’t function properly.
If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to problems with the heart, vision, memory, nerves and co-ordination, although this is rare as it can usually be easily treated.
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can be detected by various symptoms, one of which is mouth ulcers.
Mouth ulcers are common and rarely a sign of anything serious, but if developed alongside other symptoms, could indicate vitamin B12 deficiency.
If mouth ulcers are present, they should clear up on their own within a week or two, but there are ways to help speed up the healing process, reduce pain and reduce the chance of them returning.
The NHS recommends using a soft-bristled toothbrush when brushing teeth, so as to avoid irritating the mouth ulcer.
Drinking cool drinks through a straw can also help, as this reduces contact of liquids with the mouth ulcer.
Eating softer foods can also help reduce irritation, while the NHS also recommends going for regular dental check-ups.
On the other hand, very spicy, salty or acidic foods should be avoided, as they can aggravate mouth ulcers.
Rough, crunchy food like toast or crisps can also make mouth ulcers more sore, as can drinking very hot or acidic drinks, such as fruit juice.
Chewing gum should also be avoided, as should toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulphate.
Both can increase irritation of mouth ulcers.
Pharmacists can also recommend treatments to speed up healing, prevent infection and reduce pain.
They may recommend an antimicrobial mouthwash, a painkilling mouthwash, gel or spray, or corticosteroid lozenges.
The NHS advises seeing a dentist or GP if mouth ulcers last more than three weeks, keep coming back, or become more painful and red.
A dentist or GP may prescribe stronger medication to treat severe, recurrent or infected mouth ulcers.
“Mouth ulcers need time to heal and there is no quick fix. Avoiding things that irritate your mouth ulcer should help,” said the NHS.
Although most mouth ulcers are harmless, they could be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency if other symptoms are present.
Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include a sore and red tongue, pale skin, pins and needles, disturbed vision, irritability, fatigue, lethargy, headaches and feeling faint.
Breathlessness, heart palpitations, loss of appetite and weight loss, depression and a decline in mental abilities are other symptoms.