Peptic Ulcers and Your Mouth
Historically, doctors believed that peptic ulcers were caused by stress or acidic foods.8 They now know that peptic ulcers—sores in the lining of your stomach or small intestine—are often the result of a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori.2,8 These bacteria can weaken the protective coating of your stomach.3 This allows acid in the digestive system to damage the lining of your stomach and cause a sore.2 The most common symptom is a burning pain in your stomach.6
Interestingly, a common treatment for a peptic ulcer can affect your mouth. And medications used to treat dental issues can lead to a peptic ulcer.
How Treatment for an Ulcer Can Affect Your Mouth
If you have a peptic ulcer, your doctor may recommend that you take bismuth subsalicylate (such as Pepto-Bismol) to eliminate H. pylori.8 Although it’s a harmless side effect, bismuth subsalicylate can cause the surface of the tongue to turn black temporarily.1
How Dental Treatment Can Lead to an Ulcer
If you experience pain in your mouth or are recovering from oral surgery, your dentist may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.4,5 Although most peptic ulcers are due to an infection with H. pylori, taking NSAIDs for a long time can also lead to an ulcer.4 NSAIDs can cause ulcers by hindering the stomach’s ability to protect itself from acidic digestive juices.4 Ulcers usually heal once you stop taking NSAIDs.4
1 “Antidiarrheal Medicines: OTC Relief for Diarrhea.” American Academy of Family Physicians. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/otc-center/otc-medicines/855.html Accessed 2009.
2 “H. pylori and Peptic Ulcer.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hpylori Accessed 2009.
3 “Helicobacter pylori.” National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000229.htm. Accessed 2009.
4 “NSAIDs and Peptic Ulcers.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/nsaids Accessed 2009.
5 “Pain Control After Surgery: Pain Medicines.” American Academy of Family Physicians. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/pain/treatment/259.printerview.html Accessed 2009.
6 “Peptic Ulcer.” National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/pepticulcer.html Accessed 2009.
7 “Peptic Ulcer Disease.” American College of Gastroenterology. www.acg.gi.org/patients/gihealth/peptic.asp Accessed 2009.
8“Ulcers: What You Can Do to Heal Your Ulcer.” American Academy of Family Physicians. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/digestive/disorders/186.html Accessed 2009.