Do you now or have you ever had problems with sores in your mouth? This can be a very distressful condition that not only causes pain, but also can keep you from getting the proper nutrition and hydration your body needs. Nevertheless, not all mouth sores are alike. There are many different illnesses or injuries that can cause mouth sores, so treatment and prevention will be targeted to your specific set of circumstances. However, collectively speaking, there are a number of tips to prevent the occurrence of mouth sores.
What Causes Mouth Sores
Because there are so many underlying reasons for sores in the mouth, we will review some of the most common and the most serious lesions. These sores can appear anywhere in or on the mouth, including your tongue, lips, gums, and the roof of your mouth or the inside of your cheek. The most commonly occurring lesion is a canker sore, or aphthous lesion. These shallow white or yellow lesions that are surrounded by a red edge, are very painful and can be caused by stress, infection, spicy foods, vitamin deficiencies, or trauma. For instance, biting the inside of your cheek can result in a canker sore. However, any trauma other than biting, such as eating food with jagged edges or drinking a beverage that is too hot can also result in a mouth sore.
A variety of infections can also cause sores in the mouth. Herpes Simplex virus, both I and II, can cause sores, commonly called cold sores or fever blisters. This infection can be transmitted either by saliva, skin contact with a herpes lesion, or oral sex. Syphilis, which is spread through unprotected sex, can also appear as a mouth sore. Another common illness, especially in school age children, is coxsackievirus, or hand, foot, mouth disease. This is highly contagious and is spread by contact with saliva, stool, or respiratory secretions.
Some more serious causes of mouth lesions include autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease or lupus. Additionally, anemia can be the source of sores in the mouth. Finally, your dentist should evaluate any persistent mouth sore, because they could be cancerous.
10 Tips to Prevent Mouth Sores
Now that we’ve identified a number of causes for mouth sores, here are some tips on how to prevent them.
1. Because stress can cause canker sores, try to minimize it in your life, or learn to find ways to cope. Meditating, relaxation techniques, exercise, and counseling are all viable options to deal with stress in your life.
2. Try to avoid trauma. This includes chewing carefully to avoid biting your tongue, cheeks, or lips. It also includes making sure that your dentures fit you properly. Test the temperature of food or drink before you put it in your mouth to avoid burns. And try to avoid spicy or acidic foods because these are associated with mouth sores.
3. Because vitamin deficiencies can cause mouth sores, make sure you get adequate nutrition. If you know your diet is not balanced, make sure to take a multivitamin daily.
4. Also make sure you are getting adequate amounts of iron, which can be found in meats and green leafy vegetables. If you are anemic, see your doctor to determine why, and treat the cause.
5. If you have a chronic illness, like lupus, see your doctor regularly and take your medication as directed to try to prevent the sores associated with the disease.
6. If you have a cold, you should get adequate rest, drink plenty of fluids and take acetaminophen for your fever. If your doctor prescribes them, take all of your antibiotics as directed.
7. Avoid sharing a glass, kissing, or coming in direct contact with the lesion of anyone who has a cold sore.
8. Herpes, Syphilis, and HIV can all be the cause of mouth sores, so practice safe sex, including safe oral sex.
9. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infection.
10. Stop smoking in any form, including cigarettes, pipe, cigars, and vapor. You should also stop chewing tobacco. All of these activities can cause cancer of the mouth.
When Should I See My Dentist?
Most cold sores and canker sores should resolve within one to two weeks, and usually the only treatment is using over the counter topical pain relievers such as Orajel or Abreva. However, there are certain circumstances when you should see your dentist.
· If your dentures do not fit right
· If your symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, or if they keep coming back
· If you have severe pain, trouble eating, trouble swallowing, or trouble talking
· If you have a growth anywhere in your mouth
· If you have a light or a dark spot in your mouth
· If your lip gets a dry, scaly patch that doesn’t heal
If you are bothered by mouth sores, would like more information about them, have any concerning symptoms, or have any other dental needs, please call Hagerman Dental Care at (651) 646-2392, or request an appointment online. We will make your dental and oral health our top priority.