Posts for tag: Mouth Sores
Also known as canker sores and ulcers, mouth sores usually result from bite injuries or allergic reactions. They can also be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Unlike cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HS1 and HS2) and develop on the lips and the skin around the mouth, non-Herpes related mouth sores can form on the gums, tongue, lips, the lining of the cheeks and throat. Canker sores are not contagious, and usually clear up on their own. They tend to be painful and can be treated with topical over the counter analgesics, mouthwashes and rinses. If mouth sores do not resolve on their own and last longer than three weeks, it may be necessary to seek treatment from an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.
Common Causes of Mouth Ulcers and Canker Sores
Accidental biting is the most common cause, along with friction from toothbrushing, orthodontics or dentures. Diet can also play a role, in the form of food allergies to anything from coffee, chocolate and highly acidic foods and citrus fruits. Deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals like folic acid, B12, iron, folate and zinc can also cause mouth ulcers. Sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste and oral bacteria like Helicobacter pylori (which is also responsible for stomach ulcers) can cause lesions in the mouth as well.
Lifestyle factors like smoking and elevated stress levels are another cause. Ulcers that persist for more than a few weeks, do not respond to self-care and over the counter treatments and are accompanied by additional symptoms like fever, excessive pain, swelling and difficulty eating and drinking, can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Schedule an appointment with an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- swollen lymph nodes
- difficulty swallowing or speaking
Is an Underlying Medical Condition Causing My Mouth Sores?
Persistent and chronic mouth sores can sometimes be a symptom of immune deficiencies or inflammatory conditions like lupus, Celiac, Behcet's and Chron's Disease. Contact an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) for more information on treatment options and symptom relief.
Mouth sores or ulcers can certainly be painful when they occur, making it uncomfortable whenever you eat or drink anything. Luckily, most of the time the cause is truly benign and the ulcer will go away on its own without treatment. Of course, if this is a problem that occurs frequently or causes you significant pain than it’s worth talking to an otolaryngologist to find out what’s going on.
Causes of Mouth Sores
So, what could be causing these painful oral sores? Well, there are several things it could be:
- Traumatic injury (e.g. biting your cheek)
- Poor hygiene
- Irritation from dentures, braces, or a sharp tooth
- Oral thrush infection (a type of yeast infection)
- Herpes simplex viral infection (causes cold sores that often develop on the mouth or lips)
- Autoimmune disorder
- Certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and HIV
- Cancer of the lip
Sometimes adults suffer from aphthous ulcers (better known as canker sores), which are mouth sores that have no known cause. These sores can affect the mouth, gums or tongue and result in small whitish ulcers that can occur during times of emotional stress or around a woman’s menstrual cycle.
The Symptoms of a Mouth Sore
Along with a round ulcer or sore in the mouth, you may also experience pain and tenderness around the sore. The skin around the sore may also be inflamed. Certain foods, such as citrus or spicy foods, can cause further irritation.
Treatment Mouth Sores
If you are someone who is dealing with persistent mouth sores it’s important that you find out what’s causing your symptoms so you know the best course of action. In order to provide an accurate diagnosis an ENT doctor will perform a physical examination to inspect the sore. Based on its appearance a doctor can often decide what the sore is and how to treat it.
For example, if the ulcer is yellow and a bit larger this is usually caused by some sort of trauma to the soft tissue. If a fever is present, the ulcer may be the result of the herpes simplex virus. Sometimes blood tests or a biopsy is necessary to make a more accurate diagnosis.
As we mentioned, most sores will go away by themselves after a few days. Of course, there are other types of ulcers that may require treatment, especially if they are causing you significant pain. Simple conservative treatment options and care include:
- Using an antiseptic rinse or gel
- Taking pain relievers
- Maintaining good oral hygiene
- Avoiding spicy, sour, and citrus foods
- Rinsing your mouth out with warm salt water
Certain ulcers, such as ones caused by the herpes simplex virus or oral thrush may require a prescription medication. This is why it’s a good idea to turn to an ENT specialist if you are dealing with mouth sores and don’t know what’s causing them.