Painful mouth sores, canker sores or cold sores may make it difficult to floss and brush properly. Some sores may form inside your mouth, while others may appear on and around your lips. These sores can be caused by a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. Sometimes a sharp edge from a broken tooth or uneven filling can scrape against your cheeks or tongue and cause a sore. Or you could have a dental appliance that is loose or broken which may be causing a sore.
One type of mouth sore is leukoplakia. This thick or thin, whitish-color patch which forms on the inside of your cheeks, gums or tongue is caused by excess cell growth. They are often common among users of tobacco, but can also result from irritations due to ill-fitting dental appliances. Oral thrush is a fungal infection that also appears as a white patch in the mouth. It is most common among denture wearers or among people who have a problem with their immune system. People who experience dry mouth syndrome may also be susceptible to this infection.
Canker sores appear inside the mouth as small ulcers with a white, gray or yellow center and a red border. A canker sore may produce a tingling or burning sensation. Canker sores are not contagious or precancerous, and usually heal on their own, but some over-the-counter medications may help reduce pain. Cold sores are painful, fluid-filled blisters that usually form around your lips, on the gums around your teeth, or on the roof of your mouth. They are contagious and are caused by a virus that stays in your body. Wind, sun, fever or stress can cause the virus to flare up periodically. Cold sores usually heal in about a week. You might get some relief for the discomfort from an over-the-counter topical cream.
Not all mouth sores are harmless and may be a symptom of a medical disease. Find a family dentist to examine your mouth if you notice any change including pain or discomfort, or the presence of sores that last a week or longer, even if they are not painful.
ChooseYourDentist.com is your go-to source for dental information and dental education. If you are concerned about mouth sores, use our dental profiles to help find a general dentist or family dentist who can help because ChooseYourDentist.com is "where patients and dentists meet."