Compassionate Dental Care

Types of Mouth Sores And General Causes

Our dental health goes beyond our teeth; it includes the rest of our mouth. Aside from our teeth getting affected with dental conditions, our mouth can experience mouth sores. When you think of mouth sores, what do you think of? The first to come to mind is cold sores. However, there are various types of mouth sores we can get.

Yes, you heard right, there is more than one type. You can experience pain with mouth sores or some irritation since they can appear anywhere inside the mouth like your lips, cheeks, gums, and tongue. Sores usually take a week or two to heal on their own, but if it persists after two weeks contact your dentist to get a full examination.

Causes Of Mouth Sores

As mentioned, there are a variety of mouth sores we can get due to

  • Infections from bacteria, viruses, or fungus.
  • Irritation from loose orthodontic wire (braces) or the sharp edge of a tooth filling.
  • Dentures don’t fit properly causing to rub against the tissue.
  • Sensitivity to toothpaste or mouthwash ingredient.
  • A symptom of disease or disorder.  

If after two weeks you still have your sore, contact your dentist to make an appointment as soon as possible to ensure it is not a severe problem.

Types of Mouth Sores

Mouth sores can vary, and below we have listed mouth sores, you can experience, and where they appear.

  • Cold Sores – talk about painful sores, cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are one of them. They are fluid-filled blisters found on the outside of your mouth usually around the skin of your lips. But they can also be found on the roof of your mouth or gum tissue near the tooth. Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus which is contagious. Once you have been infected with the virus, it stays in the body inactively, though there are times when it can become active periodically which results in cold sores.
  • Canker sores – have a red border with a white, yellow or gray center which is known to be small ulcers. They begin as a red spot which is painful before any symptom shows. The cause of canker sores is genetic, although, there are other factors which can cause them to appear such as emotional stress or food. These particular sores affect the lining of the mouth but don’t worry they aren’t contagious or precancerous. There is no cure for this type of lesion, so if you experience discomfort, you can treat it if needed.
  • Leukoplakia – when there is an excess of cell growth in the lining of the mouth, leukoplakia sores develop inside the mouth. It appears as a white or gray patch which develops over time and can become rough. Leukoplakia sore can often be a response to continual irritation by smoking, foods, cheek biting, or broken teeth. This type of sore is not usually sensitive or painful but you want to ensure gets ruled out by your dentist from being a harmful sore.
  • Erythroplakia – is less common than the other sores; however, they can still appear in the mouth particularly on the floor of the mouth or gum tissue in the back teeth. Out of the variety of sores, this sore is known to be precancerous or cancerous when there has been a biopsy. If after two weeks it has not healed, visit your dentist for evaluation.

Associated to Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a severe condition which is often detected in its later stage. It can appear on the lips, cheeks, gums or the roof of your mouth. It can appear as a white or red lesion, lump or ulcer that is at first painless but can spread quickly. April is oral cancer awareness, so the next time you visit your dentist talk about getting an oral cancer screening. With leukoplakia and erythroplakia sores, you want to make sure they are treated and checked by your dentist to ensure there aren’t further complications.

Visiting Your Dentist

If you notice you have one of the sores above, before you diagnose yourself, contact your dentist to get a full examination of your teeth and mouth to rule out any possible, serious condition. For the most part, sores heal on their own after two weeks. However, if they persist for more than two, it’s time for a dental visit.

You can always schedule an appointment with our dentists in one of our two locations in Salt Lake City, call us at 801-747-8000 to schedule an appointment.  



Mouth Sores and Spots. Dr. Jordan Johnson. ADA Patient Smart: Patient Education Center.

Mouth Sores. Healthy Mouth.  

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