There are several kinds of sores that occur in the mouth. Most of them are harmless and do not cause long term health problems. A couple of these types of sores may be canker sores or cold sores.

Canker sores are also called recurrent aphthous ulcers. These are small round sores that appear inside the mouth. The most likely will appear on the loose tissues of the mouth, such as the inside of the cheek or lip, the underside of the tongue and the floor of the mouth. These sores will usually heal in about 1 to 2 weeks. No one really knows the exact cause of a canker sore but some people believe that they may be inherited. Things like a bite or cut, toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, emotional stress, hormone changes, food allergies, and vitamin deficiencies may be triggers for outbreaks of canker sores.

Canker sores are not contagious but if you get one, it is more than likely that you will get one again. Although there is no cure for a canker sore, there are ways for you to reduce their frequency or longevity. For instance, you can use toothpastes that do not contain sodium lauryl sulfate, you can rinse with salt water or you can avoid spicy or acidic foods during an outbreak.

Cold sores may also be called fever blisters or oral herpes. These are sores that usually appear on or near the lips. Cold sores will usually heal in 10- 14 days. It is possible that during an outbreak you will experience a low fever, headaches, body aches and fatigue. The herpes simplex virus is the cause of cold sores but outside sources can trigger outbreaks. Some of these sources are ultraviolet light, stress, fatigue, hormone changes, menstrual cycle and even the simple cold or flu.

Like canker sores, there is no cure. However, the similarities stop there because cold sores are extremely contagious. The herpes simplex virus spreads through direct contact with an infected person or through the personal items of an infected person. These items can be towels, toothbrushes or razors. To help prevent the spread of cold sores you can avoid touching the affected areas, you can wash thoroughly, or you can avoid direct contact with an infected person during an outbreak.

Please remember that both these types of sores do eventually heal. If you have a sore in or around your mouth that you feel is suspicious or does not heal in a timely manner, please contact us so that we may perform an oral cancer screening.


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