We all get them – bothersome little mouth sores, like inflamed taste buds or gross-looking lip irritations. But, how do you know what’s a serious condition and what is just a common malady? Consider consulting a dentist if a mouth sore doesn’t heal within two weeks. Mouth sores offer an easy avenue for germs and viruses to get into the body, so it’s very easy for infections and other ailments to develop.
People who consume alcohol, smoke, are chemotherapy patients, or have weakened immune systems should also have regular oral screenings from a dentist. The first sign of oral cancer is a mouth sore that doesn’t heal. Other symptoms of oral cancer include: sores on the floor of the mouth, lumps or masses that can be felt inside the mouth or neck, pain or difficulty swallowing, speaking or chewing, hoarseness in the voice or numbness in the oral or facial region.
The following is a brief listing of fast facts on common mouth sores.
Affliction: COLD SORE (Also known as Fever Blister)
Looks Like: Fluid-filled blisters on outside of lips. Crusty after rupture.
Painful: Yes. Pain may begin before sore appears.
Culprit: Viral Oral Herpes
Contagious: Yes, through kiss or sharing of utensils, cup, etc.
Healing: 7 to 10 days. Can use OTC creams and ointments.
Affliction: CANKER SORE
Looks Like: Open ulcer on inside of mouth, usually white or yellow surrounded by red.
Painful: Yes. Usually starts as burning or tingling sensation.
Culprit: Unknown, but can be hereditary. Most often found in women. Sometimes triggered by infection, stress, vitamin deficiencies or acidic foods.
Healing: 5 to 10 days. Can use numbing creams.
Looks Like: Thick white patches in mouth (caused by fungus) and on the tongue.
Painful: No, but will cause some discomfort for babies. It can be if irritated by actions like trying to scrape it off.
Culprit: Found in young and old, usually those with immature or weakened immune systems. People can also get it from taking certain medications, such as antibiotics.
Healing: Can last for a few weeks to months, depending on severity. Anti-fungal medications can help.
Looks Like: Thick white patches in mouth and on the tongue.
Culprit: Irritants, such as cigarettes or badly fitting dentures.
Healing: Indefinite. Can be precancerous, so if it’s persistent, see a dentist.
Affliction: BLACK HAIRY TONGUE
Looks Like: Taste buds that have grown long and look dark.
Culprit: Poor oral hygiene, smoking, drinking lots of coffee or tea.
Healing: Brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper is usually all you need to treat it, though sometimes medication is necessary.
Dr. Phillip Katz is an advanced trained General Dentist in Pickerington, Ohio. He studied dentistry at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry and has amassed hundreds of hours of advanced training in the areas of dental implants, veneers, sedation dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry. He provides dental services to patients in Pickerington, Columbus, and surrounding Ohio communities.