The Basics of Mouth Sores
by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 7/8/2019
Mouth sores often appear seemingly without notice, but they always manage to make their presence known. It’s helpful to know the difference between the two most common types of sores, what causes them, and what to expect in terms of treatment.
What causes mouth sores?
The specific cause of a mouth sore will vary depending on the type of sore, but it can range from a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection to the sharp edge of a broken tooth or filling. In some cases, even a loose orthodontic wire or a poorly fitted denture can lead to the development of sores. Certain foods, especially ones that are acidic, can also be contributing factors.
Types of mouth sores
Canker sores and cold sores are the most common types of mouth sores. Whereas cold sores typically appear on the outside of the mouth on the lips, canker sores are irritations that develop inside the mouth, most commonly in adolescents and young adults.
Science has yet to pinpoint the exact cause of canker sores, but they appear in your mouth as small lesions with a white or gray base and a red border. Canker sores are not contagious, but fatigue, stress, and allergies are all believed to be factors that can increase the likelihood of a canker sore. If you bite your cheek or tongue, the cut can form a canker sore.
Conversely, cold sores are highly contagious. They appear on or around your lips as red blisters that are filled with fluid. Cold sores can often be painful, as well.
Treatment options for mouth sores
Both canker sores and cold sores will usually heal on their own within a week or two. There are topical anesthetics available over-the-counter that may provide temporary relief, and it would be best to avoid hot or acidic foods and beverages that might irritate or worsen your sores.
If you notice that a sore is not healing within 10 days, schedule an appointment with your local Kimball & Beecher office so that a dental professional can evaluate it.