True Dental Health is not Limited to Your Teeth…
Dental health involves the entire mouth – mouth sores and irritations are unfortunately common occurrences in and around the mouth. Fortunately, oral tissues typically and quickly heal on their own. Learn more about the 4 most common mouth sores, some of their causes, treatment, and more.
Causes of Mouth Sores
Sores in the mouth can have any number of causes, including:
~ Infections from bacteria, viruses, or fungi
~ Irritation from a broken tooth, filling, piercing, loose orthodontic wire or other sharp appliance, or ill-fitting dentures
~ The symptom of a disease or disorder
~ Immune system challenges and problems
The 4 Most Common Mouth Sores
Number 1: Canker Sores
Canker sores develop in the soft tissues of the mouth, including the tongue, gums, uvula, or insides of the cheeks. They are typically white or gray sores with a red border. But good news! Canker sores are NOT contagious. While the cause of canker sores is hard to pinpoint, it could be related to immune issues, oral hygiene issues, food irritation, stress, bacteria, viruses, or soft tissue trauma.
Canker sores typically heal on their own. Healing can take several days and sometimes up to two weeks. If they are painful or causing problems with eating or talking, there are over-the-counter mouthwashes and pain killers that can provide relief during the healing process. Avoid spicy, acidic, and overly salty foods to minimize irritation and pain while the canker sore is healing.
Number 2: Cold Sores
Cold sores or fever blisters usually show up as a group of fluid-filled blisters around the lips, under the nose, and sometimes around the chin. Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex type 1 virus, and they are VERY contagious. Once a person is infected, the virus will stay in the body and will cause periodic attacks over time. Some people notice that stress or other immune challenges can bring on an eruption. Cold sores usually heal on their own in about a week. If the blisters are painful, over-the-counter topical medications can provide some relief. If the breakouts are severe or frequent, antiviral drugs can be prescribed.
Number 3: Thrush
Thrush is a fungal infection that occurs when the yeast known as Candida Albicans becomes overgrown in the oral cavity. It can reproduce rapidly in large numbers, causing an overgrowth and a thrush infection. Thrush is most common in those with weakened immune systems (the very young, the elderly, or those who are affected by diseases like diabetes or leukemia), when the body’s own defenses can’t keep the yeast in check. Dry mouth syndromes and denture use both also make thrush more likely. Antibiotic treatment is another risk factor, as antibiotics decrease the normal bacterial flora in the mouth, and gives the yeast a chance to flourish.
The best way to prevent and control thrush is to focus on good oral hygiene and preventing the conditions that make Candida more likely to reproduce rapidly.
Number 4: Leukoplakia
Leukoplakia are thick, whitish patches that form on the inside of the cheeks, and is caused by excessive cell growth. Leukoplakia can result from irritations in the mouth such as ill-fitting dentures or appliances, or in those who habitually chew the insides of their cheeks. These lesions are also common among tobacco users. Leukoplakia can, in some cases, be associated with oral cancer. If a leukoplakia patch looks suspicious, it may be necessary to perform a biopsy.
Removing sources of irritation that can result in leukoplakia is normally the first step in treatment, such as stopping tobacco use or replacing ill-fitting appliances.
We Are Here to Help!
This is not complete medical advice, rather some of the basics to know about when it comes to mouth sores. Have you noticed new or recent sores in your mouth? Do you have a question about an unusual change in your oral soft tissue? Any mouth sores that last a week or longer should be examined by your dentist or doctor. As always, call McGann Facial Design with any oral health question and we will do our very best to help!