Mouth Sores – Should You Be Concerned?
Mouth sores can be painful, irritating and embarrassing, but are they really harmful? Most mouth sores are not serious, but it helps to understand the different types of mouth sores and know when they warrant a trip to the dentist.
The general term for a sore, swollen or inflamed mouth is stomatitis. This encompasses several different types of sores that can appear inside the mouth, on the tongue, inside the cheeks, outside of the mouth or on the lips. Two types of mouth sores that people often confuse are canker sores and cold sores. The two are quite different and have different treatments.
Canker sores are sores inside the mouth, while cold sores are outside, usually around the lips but they can even be on the chin. A trick to remember the difference is to remember, “it’s cold outside.” Cold sores are actually blisters, while canker sores are ulcers. The two also have different causes.
Canker sores – Some people get canker sores because they were born with a tendency to get them. They can also be caused by diet, injury (such as from braces or sharp objects), iron or vitamin deficiency or by eating certain types of foods that are high in acid. Canker sores usually go away by themselves in a few weeks, but they can be painful for at least the first few days. There is no actual cure for canker sores. Most people don’t get canker sores, but if you are one of the people who does, you will probably get them repeatedly as they are almost always recurring.
Cold sores – Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and they can appear anywhere on your body, but most often they are around the mouth and lower face. Ninety percent of us get at least one cold sore in our lifetimes. The fact that they are highly contagious contributes to this high rate. Cold sores usually last for about a week to ten days. During this time they will ooze, and then scab over. They are no longer contagious after they form scabs, and then they eventually slough off. Cold sores are usually not serious except in people who have AIDS or a depressed immune system.
You usually don’t have to see a dentist for a mouth sore unless it has lasted for two weeks or more. You should always see a dentist if you are bleeding inside of your mouth or if believe a tooth or sharp instrument has caused an injury inside of your mouth. You can call Alabama Family Dentistry if you have questions or concerns about mouth sores.
Although there is no cure for cold sores or canker sores, the pain and irritation they cause can be lessened by avoiding acidic foods like citrus fruits, taking pain medications such as ibuprofen or using topical ointments for cold sores. It can be tempting to avoid regular brushing and flossing when you have a mouth sore, but practicing good oral hygiene is important at all times. If you would like to learn more about how to deal with mouth sores, call us at Alabama Family Dentistry now to make an appointment.