You can get a number of types of sores in your mouth. These include cold sore blisters; white patches on the inside of the cheeks, gums, or tongue; a fungal infection; or mouth ulcers called canker sores.
Mouth sores can do more than just annoy you. In some cases, they may be a sign of a disease or illness. See your dentist if you have any mouth sore that lasts more than a week.
What Are Canker Sores?
A canker sore often starts out as a red spot or bump in the mouth that tingles or burns. They show up on the soft tissues in the mouth, either alone or in small groups.
Once formed, a canker sore looks small and round with a white, yellow, or gray center and a flat red border. Rarely, they can grow quite large with a raised edge.
Canker sores may come back over and over again, but they are not catching or a sign of cancer.
What Causes Canker Sores
The exact causes of canker sores are not known. Stress, food allergies, genetic makeup, trauma, or meds may cause a canker sore to form. Some health experts think that bacterial infection, fungus, a virus, or a weak immune system can prompt canker sores to form.
Women may be more prone to canker sores before their periods, as are those who suffer from fatigue. A bite on the tongue or cheek, a jab of the gum by a toothbrush, or even brushing teeth too hard can cause one to form.
Evidence also shows that some intestinal problems may raise one’s risk for canker sores. They may even form in response to hot foods or drinks, a loose wire from braces, dentures that do not fit right, or the pointed edge of chipped tooth or filling.
Canker sores often heal on their own after about 7 to 10 days. The use of an over-the-counter cure, such as an oral painkiller, a mouth rinse that helps to fight germs, or topical meds that help to numb parts of the mouth can help speed healing.
If you have serious outbreaks, if the sores are painful, or if they just will not go away, a dentist can come up with a plan that may help to reduce the spread of the infection.
How to Prevent Canker Sores
To help prevent canker sores, practice good oral hygiene and try to avoid the types of risk factors described above if you can. If you get a sore in or near your mouth, let your dentist know right away, especially if the sores do not heal.
Those who have canker sores should avoid hot, spicy, or acidic foods, which can make the ulcer worse. Working to reduce stress may also help stop canker sores from coming back.