They are annoying and painful! Mouth sores may be symptoms of a disease or disorder. Any mouth sore that lasts a week or longer should be examined. Among the most common are:
Canker sores: Small ulcers with a white or gray base and a red border. Unlike cold sores, canker sores appear inside the mouth. They are not contagious but their exact cause is uncertain. Some experts believe that immune system problems, bacteria or viruses may be involved. Fatigue, stress or allergies can increase their likelihood. A cut caused by biting the cheek or tongue, or reactions from hot foods or drinks may contribute to canker sore development. Intestinal problems, such as ulcerative colitis, seem to make some people more susceptible. Canker sores usually heal on their own after a week. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics, steroid preparations, and antimicrobial mouth rinses can provide temporary relief. If preferred, our dental laser can painlessly heal these with a pass or two.
Cold sores: Also called fever blisters or Herpes simplex, these groups of fluid-filled blisters often erupt around the lips, under the nose or around the chin. Cold sores caused by herpes virus type 1 are very contagious. Herpes lesions look like tiny fluid-filled blisters that are commonly around the edge of the lips. An outbreak may follow a fever, sunburn, skin abrasions or emotional upset. Cold sores usually heal in a week. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics can provide relief. Prescription antiviral drugs may reduce the duration of these viral infections.
Leukoplakia: This is a thick, whitish-color patch that forms on the inside of the cheeks, gums or tongue. These patches are caused by excess cell growth and are common among tobacco users. They can result from irritations such as an ill-fitting denture or the habit of chewing on the inside of the cheek. A danger is that leukoplakia can progress to cancer. If suspected, we will determine the need for a biopsy.
A sore or spot in or around the mouth that doesn’t heal within two weeks definitely needs to be examined. If you’re not sure what you have or if your sore persists, call our office to arrange a time to be seen promptly.