A Root Canal

Smokers With Mouth Ulcers And B12 Deficiency: How Do They Connect Together?

If you're a smoker who experiences painful mouth sores on your gums, inner cheeks and tongue, you may wonder why you have the sores and how can you ease the pain. One of the problems with smoking is that it affects the way your body metabolizes and uses minerals that protect your oral health, including vitamin B12, or cobalamin. The nutrient helps protect your immune system, nervous system, skin, and cells from disease and other issues. Here's how smoking interferes with the metabolization of B12, how a lack of B12 may cause canker sores and how a dentist can help treat your sores.

How Does Smoking Affect Vitamin B12?

Like many other types of water soluble vitamins, vitamin B12 isn't absorbed into the body, which means that your body doesn't store or retain it. You normally receive your daily intake of cobalamin from the foods you eat. However, one of the things many people may not understand or know about B12 is that some forms of the nutrient contain cyanide, including cyanocobalamin. The cyanide in cyanocobalamin usually doesn't harm you unless you take or use something that contains unnatural levels of cyanide, such as cigarettes.

Your body tries to metabolize or use B12 the same way it does the cyanide in cigarette smoke. Instead of absorbing B12, your body eliminates it through your urine. You may have lower levels of B12 in your body than someone who doesn't smoke. Because your immune system needs cobalamin to strengthen your body's white blood cells, you may develop a number of problems, including canker sores in your mouth.

The ulcers tend to develop in three stages or processes. During the first stage, you may notice a tingling or burning sensation in the areas that may develop sores. You may not see any signs of the sores during the initial stages. Once you enter stage two, the irritated areas of skin become raised and reddened. The sores also develop membranes, or thin coverings, filled with white pus. The second stage usually lasts from two to three days. During the final or third stage, your sores open up and become very painful. You might have trouble consuming foods with spices, salts, and citric acids. 

To combat the problems above and get rid of your mouth ulcers, it's a good idea that you seek professional help from a dentist. 

How Can a Dentist Treat Them?

A dentist will most likely examine your mouth to access the sizes and locations of the sores. Although canker sores aren't contagious, they may cause problems for you if they develop in your throat and prevent you from swallowing. Large ulcers can become issues because they take awhile to heal and may scar your tissues.

One of the things a dentist might do to treat your mouth sores is prescribe antiseptic rinses or medications to heal the sores. Antiseptics typically contain ingredients that fight bacteria and other types of organisms that cause infection. It's also possible for you to rinse your mouth in salt water to help the sores heal. However, you must clear this type of treatment with a dentist before using it to avoid complicating your oral health.

You may need to take vitamin B12 supplements that don't contain cyanocobalamin. One particular B12 you might take is methylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin tends to stay inside your body longer than cyanocobalamin and doesn't create the harmful side effects of cyanide. As with any outside treatments, it's best to discuss using methylcobalamin with a dentist before taking the supplement.

If you want to learn more about smoking and mouth ulcers, contact a dentist near you today.