Is Your Mouth Sore Common or Something More?

Mouth sores, like inflame­d taste buds or gross-look­ing lip irritations, are common. But, how do we know if something is a serious condition or just a common malady. If a sore in your mouth doesn’t heal within two weeks, consider seeing a dentist. Sores in the mouth are easy entry points for germs and viruses, which makes them good breeding grounds for infections and other health issues. This can lead to periodontal diseases that can be extremely costly, and painful to repair.

If you’re a smoker, drinker, chemotherapy patient, or have a weak immune system, you should also get regular oral screenings from a dental professional. One of the first signs of oral cancer is a mouth sore that doesn’t heal. Other symptoms of oral cancers include sores on your tongue, lumps or masses in your throat, pain or difficulty swallowing or speaking, a sore or lump in your neck, hoarseness in your voice, or numbness in your face.

Here are some quick facts on common mouth sores.

Type: COLD SORE (or a “fever blister”)

Appearance: A cold sore looks like fluid-filled blisters on the outside of your lips. They can become crusty after rupturing.

Pain: These are painful. Pain can begin before the sore forms, and the sore is sensitive while present.

Cause: Viral Oral Herpes

Contagiousness: Yes, this can be spread through kissing or sharing of utensils, cups, etc. Most contact with oral fluids can spread this virus.

Solution: Sores heal within 7 to 10 days. You can use OTC medicines and ointments to alleviate pain and quicken the healing.

Type: CANKER SORE

Appearance: A canker sore looks like an open ulcer on the inside of your mouth. They typically are white or yellow surrounded by red, inflamed tissue.

Pain: Canker sores are painful. The pain usually starts as a burning or tingling sensation, but can develop into a stinging or sore sensation.

Cause: The cause of canker sores is unknown, but is believed to be hereditary. These are most often found in women and can be triggered by infections, high stress, deficiencies in vitamins, or consumption of acidic foods.

Contagiousness: Canker sores are not contagious.

Solution: Canker sores heal within 5 to 10 days. Pain can be alleviated by using numbing creams.

Type: THRUSH

Appearance: Thrush looks like thick, white patches in the mouth and tongue. These are caused by oral fungal infections.

Pain: Thrush is not painful, but can cause discomfort for infants. It can become irritated by attempts to scrape it off.

Cause: Most commonly found in those who have weakened or compromised immune systems. It has been reported to also be contracted through taking certain antibiotics and other medicines.

Contagiousness: Thrush is not contagious.

Solution: Thrush can heal within a few weeks to months, depending on the severity of the infection. Anti-fungal medications can help the healing process.

Type: LEUKOPLAKIA

Appearance: Leukoplakia looks like thick, white patches around and inside the mouth and on the tongue.

Pain: Leukoplakia is not painful.

Cause: Leukoplakia is caused by oral irritants. These irritants include using items such as cigarettes, cigars, or e-cigarettes, or items like poorly fitted dentures.

Contagiousness: Leukoplakia is not contagious.

Solution: The healing period for leukoplakia is indefinite. Leukoplakia can become precancerous, so if it is persistent for long periods of time, consult with your dentist.

Type: BLACK HAIRY TONGUE

Appearance: Black hairy tongue is when your taste buds have grown long and have a darker appearance.

Pain: Black hairy tongue is not painful.

Cause: Black hairy tongue is caused by poor oral hygiene (not brushing or flossing frequently, and not using mouthwash). It is also caused by habitual smoking and drinking large amounts of coffee or tea.

Contagiousness: Black hairy tongue is not contagious.

Solution: Healing black hairy tongue is as simple as brushing your tongue with a tongue scraper, and practicing more rigorous oral hygiene. Sometimes, in more severe cases, medication should be used.\

If you do not treat these common sores, they can lead to more serious oral issues that lead to periodontal or gum diseases. Be sure to consult with your dentist if you notice any of these symptoms, and in the case of a severe illness, be sure to contact Innovative Periodontics to prevent periodontal disease.

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