Causes of Mouth Sores


Mouth sores, also known as oral ulcers or stomatitis, can be a common and uncomfortable condition that affects the soft tissues inside the mouth and the causes of mouth sores vary from person to person. They can appear anywhere in the oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, gums, and inner cheeks. Mouth sores can vary in size, shape, and color, and may cause pain or discomfort while eating, drinking, or speaking.

Different types of mouth sores and their causes

There are several types of mouth sores, each with its own causes and characteristics. The most common types include canker sores, cold sores, and oral thrush.

Canker sores are small, shallow ulcers that typically have a white or gray base surrounded by a red border. They can be caused by various factors, such as stress, injury to the mouth, certain foods, hormonal changes, or a weakened immune system.

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). They usually appear as fluid-filled blisters that rupture and form crusts. Cold sores are highly contagious and can be triggered by factors like stress, sunlight, or a weakened immune system.

Oral thrush is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of Candida yeast. It presents as white, creamy patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, or roof of the mouth. Factors that can contribute to oral thrush include a weakened immune system, certain medications, or underlying health conditions like diabetes.


Symptoms and complications of mouth sores

The symptoms of mouth sores can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Common symptoms include pain, burning or tingling sensation, swollen or inflamed gums, difficulty swallowing, and bad breath. In some cases, mouth sores can be accompanied by fever, fatigue, or swollen lymph nodes.

While most mouth sores resolve on their own within one to two weeks, complications can arise if they become infected or persist for an extended period. In severe cases, mouth sores can cause difficulty in eating, drinking, or speaking, leading to dehydration or malnutrition. It is essential to seek medical attention if you experience severe pain, high fever, or if the sores do not improve within two weeks.

Common triggers

Understanding the common triggers for mouth sores can help in their prevention and management. Some common triggers include:

  • Stress: Emotional or physical stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to mouth sores.
  • Trauma or injury: Accidental biting, dental procedures, or harsh brushing can cause mouth sores.
  • Spicy or acidic foods: Consuming foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, or spicy dishes can irritate the delicate tissues in the mouth.
  • Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels during menstruation or pregnancy can contribute to the development of mouth sores.
  • Weakened immune system: Certain medical conditions or medications that suppress the immune system can increase the risk of mouth sores.

Tips for preventing causes of mouth sores

While some mouth sores may be unavoidable, there are steps you can take to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks:

  1. Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and use a mouthwash to maintain a healthy oral environment.
  2. Avoid triggering foods: Identify and avoid foods that trigger your mouth sores, such as spicy or acidic foods.
  3. Manage stress: Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercise, meditation, or seeking support from a therapist.
  4. Protect your lips: Use a lip balm with SPF to protect your lips from sun exposure, which can trigger cold sores.
  5. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist and prevent dryness that can contribute to mouth sores.
  6. Avoid tobacco and alcohol: Both tobacco and alcohol can irritate the tissues in the mouth and increase the risk of mouth sores.

Home remedies for managing and healing

If you develop a mouth sore, there are several home remedies that can help manage the symptoms and promote healing:

  1. Rinse with saltwater: Mix half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth several times a day. Saltwater can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  2. Apply aloe vera gel: Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel directly to the sore. Aloe vera has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.
  3. Use a honey and turmeric paste: Mix equal parts of honey and turmeric powder to form a paste. Apply the paste to the sore and leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing. Both honey and turmeric have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. Apply a cold compress: Place a cold, damp cloth or ice pack on the sore to numb the pain and reduce inflammation.
  5. Use over-the-counter products: There are over-the-counter gels, creams, and mouth rinses available that can provide temporary relief from pain and promote healing.

Over-the-counter treatments

Over-the-counter treatments can be effective in managing and healing mouth sores. These products are readily available at pharmacies or online and can provide temporary relief from pain and discomfort. Some common over-the-counter treatments for mouth sores include:

  1. Oral analgesics: These are pain relievers that can be applied directly to the sore, providing temporary relief.
  2. Oral rinses: Mouth rinses containing ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, benzocaine, or chlorhexidine can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  3. Topical gels or creams: These products often contain ingredients like benzocaine or lidocaine, which can numb the area and provide relief from pain.

Medical treatments for severe or persistent mouth sores

If your mouth sores are severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can evaluate the condition and recommend appropriate medical treatments, such as:

  1. Prescription medications: Depending on the type and cause of the mouth sores, a doctor may prescribe antiviral, antifungal, or corticosteroid medications to manage the condition.
  2. Immune-boosting therapies: In cases where mouth sores are associated with underlying immune system disorders, therapies aimed at boosting the immune system may be recommended.
  3. Laser therapy: In some cases, laser therapy can be used to promote healing and reduce the frequency of mouth sores.

Causes of mouth sores in toddlers

Mouth sores can be particularly challenging to manage in toddlers, as they may not be able to communicate their discomfort effectively. If you notice mouth sores in your toddler, it is important to:

  1. Monitor their fluid intake: Ensure that your toddler stays hydrated by offering them water or other fluids frequently.
  2. Offer soft, bland foods: Stick to soft, easy-to-eat foods that won’t irritate the mouth sores.
  3. Use a straw: If your toddler finds it painful to drink directly from a cup, try using a straw to bypass the sores.
  4. Avoid spicy or acidic foods: These can further irritate the mouth sores and cause more discomfort.

Mouth sores associated with lupus and other autoimmune conditions

Lupus and other autoimmune conditions can cause mouth sores as a result of the body’s immune system attacking healthy cells. These sores are often referred to as “lupus mouth ulcers” and can be painful and persistent. If you have lupus or another autoimmune condition, it is important to work closely with your healthcare team to manage your symptoms. They may recommend medications to control the underlying condition and manage the mouth sores.

When to seek medical attention

While most mouth sores resolve on their own within one to two weeks, there are situations where medical attention is recommended:

  • Severe pain that affects your ability to eat, drink, or speak.
  • High fever or other signs of infection, such as pus or increasing redness around the sore.
  • Sores that do not improve or worsen after two weeks.
  • Recurring or persistent mouth sores that interfere with your daily life.

Taking care of your oral health

Maintaining good oral hygiene and taking steps to prevent mouth sores can go a long way in promoting oral health. By practicing good oral hygiene, avoiding triggers, and seeking appropriate medical care when needed, you can effectively manage and heal mouth sores. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and treatment options.

If you are experiencing persistent or severe mouth sores, it is important to seek medical attention. Contact Nova Dental for a comprehensive assessment and personalised treatment plan.

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