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Mouth sores—they can be painful and irritating when you eat certain foods, when you bump them with your tongue or teeth, or even when you try to smile. They can be caused by ill-
What are mouth sores?
Mouth sores are swollen spots or sores in your mouth, on your lips, on your tongue, or on the skin surrounding your mouth. There are several types of mouth sores, including:
Canker sores. Canker sores are small, white areas of swelling or soreness that are surrounded by redness. Canker sores are not contagious. The cause of canker sores is uncertain, but some research suggests that immune system deficiencies,bacteria, or viruses might be the culprits. Smoking, stress, trauma, allergies, certain types of foods (chocolate, caffeine, or acidic foods), or vitamin deficiencies also may make you more susceptible to canker sores. Canker sores usually heal within one week, but they can recur. And, while there is no cure for canker sores, overthe-
help to relieve pain.
Cold sores. Often, people confuse canker sores with cold sores (also called fever blisters). Cold sores are groups of often-
Leukoplakia. Leukoplakia appears on the inner cheeks, gums, or tongue and often appears as a thick, white-
Candidiasis. Candidiasis is a fungal infection that also is called oral thrush. Candidiasis appears as yellow-
Oral cancer. Oral cancer often starts as a tiny white or red spot or sore. Sometimes oral cancer presents itself as a sore that bleeds easily or does not heal. Or, it can be a lump or a thick or rough spot. It can affect any area of the mouth, including the lips, gums, tongue, and hard or soft palate. If you have pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips that does not go away after a week, talk to your dentist. Oral cancer most often affects people who use tobacco. If you use tobacco, talk to your dentist or physician about tobacco cessation treatment plans. Also, your dentist can check your mouth (and probably does) for oral cancer very easily and quickly during your routine cleaning and exam. Ask your dentist if he or she performs oral cancer screenings to be sure.
Should I be concerned?
Mouth sores are common and rarely cause complications. Most go away in about a week, but it’s important to monitor any mouth sores you develop. If you are concerned, or if the sore doesn’t seem to be healing, contact your dentist or other medical professional for an examination.
This information was compiled for you by the Academy of General Dentistry.