Nobody likes sores anywhere on their body, but when they appear in and around the mouth, they can be especially irritating and embarrassing. Here are some of the types of mouth sores most commonly found:
Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are sores that appear inside the mouth, not on the lips. While their specific cause is unknown, they can be caused by irritation or trauma to the mouth, like an allergic reaction or puncture from an injury or biting of the cheek. Poor-fitting dentures and orthodontic attachments can also cause them, as can various bacteria and viruses.
What you eat or drink can contribute to canker sores. Foods that are spicy or highly acidic, chewing tobacco, and some toothpaste ingredients are irritants. Some people have allergic reactions or sensitivities to foods or metals, as those used in orthodontic treatments. Those with celiac disease may also get them as a result of gluten in their diet.
Other causes can include stress, peptic ulcers, vitamin deficiencies (especially B12, folate and iron), pregnancy and menopausal hormone changes, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and good old genetics. They tend to run in families.
Canker sores are not related to the herpes simplex virus (cold sores) and are not contagious. Generally, canker sores heal and disappear on their own. Contact your dentist or doctor if they are still present after two weeks.
Cold Sores and Fever Blisters
Cold sores generally appear on the outer lips although they could appear anywhere on the body and are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1. They are sometimes called fever blisters.
Cold sores appear as a blister that can break open and ooze, then forming a scab. In about 7-10 days the scab will fall off and new skin will be revealed. Until they crust over completely, they are contagious to others, and spread through kissing or contact with objects like eating utensils, towels or razors that have come into contact with the infected area.
Care must be taken to prevent spreading of cold sores to others or to other parts of the body, like the eye. If it spreads to the brain, it could cause encephalitis or meningitis, according to WebMD. Once you get a cold sore, your body will begin to produce antibodies against them and only 40% of people who have had one get them again. They may come and go but there is no cure.
Oral thrush, or oral candidiasis, occurs when the fungus Candida albicans accumulates on the mouth lining. Normally occurring in the mouth, it creates a problem when it grows to larger proportions.
Those who have oral thrush notice creamy white lesions or coating on their inner cheeks and tongue. It can spread to the gums, tonsils, roof of the mouth and back of the throat. It can also appear as cottage cheese-like lesions that cause slight bleeding if scraped. Cottonmouth and loss of the sense of taste are other reported symptoms. It sometimes leads to a condition called burning mouth syndrome.
Because of reduced immune systems, oral thrush most commonly appears in infants and seniors. It can also appear in those with suppressed immune systems, caused by diseases or medications. Untreated diabetes can lead to the growth of candida due to increased amounts of sugar in the saliva.
Treatment for oral thrush includes brushing with a soft toothbrush, rinsing the mouth with warm saltwater or a diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Apple cider vinegar can also help reduce candida in the body. Mix 1 tablespoon of the vinegar into 8 ounces of water and drink it daily. For more severe cases, antifungal medications or mouthwash may be prescribed by your dentist or doctor.
In Northern Virginia, Contact Advanced Family Dentistry
If you have developed a mouth sore that is causing you concern, please contact Dr. Sonny Kim at Advanced Family Dentistry. As a family dentist practice located in Reston to serve Northern Virginia, we want to ensure good dental health for all our patients.
Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.