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Mouth sores

No time is a good time to develop a mouth sore. Often uncomfortable or embarrassing, mouth sores make everyday tasks like eating and teeth brushing difficult. So, what are they—how do you get rid of them? Your Aspen Dental care team can help. 

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Sores in your mouth

Mouth sores (sores in your mouth) can be caused by a number of issues, but generally, they are painful spots that can pop up on the gums, tongue, lips, cheeks and roof of your mouth (palate). In some cases, sores appear outside the mouth around the lips, nose and chin.

Many mouth sores are harmless and resolve on their own. If your sores are persistent or don’t heal, you should talk to your Aspen Dental dentist about what could be causing them.

Types of mouth sores

There are many types of mouth sores, including: 

Small, painful blister-like sores that pop up on the gums, cheeks, tongue, palate or lips. Canker sores are shallow sores that are white or yellow in color with a red border

Can appear on the inside and outside of the mouth, typically around the lips, beneath the nose and on the chin. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Once you're exposed to the virus, it can cause outbreaks of cold sores from time to time. These outbreaks are often triggered by stress, hormonal changes, sun exposure, extreme wind, a cold or other illness, or a weak immune system.

Appear as thick white or gray patches inside the mouth. These patches are caused by chronic irritation, usually from tobacco products. While many cases are harmless, it’s important to monitor any changes closely as some may lead to early signs of oral cancer.

A fungal infection that appears as white patches inside the mouth. Often seen in infants or denture-wearers.

An autoimmune condition that can cause white, lacy patches in the mouth.

Persistent, non-healing sores in the mouth that have changed in color, shape, or size can be a sign of oral cancer. See your Aspen Dental dentist immediately if you notice sores that have not healed within two weeks of onset of symptoms.

Mouth sore causes

Click each one to learn more.




Hormonal changes

Tobacco and alcohol use

Oral hygiene

Mouth sores symptoms
Redness and swelling
White or yellow lesions
Blisters or ulcers
Burning sensation
Difficulty eating or speaking
Itching or irritation
Fever or enlarged lymph nodes due to infection

Symptoms of mouth sores and spots

Experiencing any of these? It could be a mouth sore.

Mouth sore treatment

If you have a mouth sore, your main priority is probably finding treatment, fast. Here are some options that can provide relief:

Over-the-counter (OTC) products

Oral gels or creams that contain benzocaine or lidocaine can numb the area and provide temporary pain relief.

Prescription medications

If OTC products aren’t working, your dentist may prescribe ointments, rinses or medications to promote faster healing and to clear any underlying infection (depending on the type of mouth sore).

Saltwater rinse:

Swishing with a warm saltwater mix a few times a day is a simple remedy that can help promote faster healing.

Avoid irritating foods

Spicy, acidic and rough-textured foods can further irritate mouth sores.

Maintain good oral hygiene

Gently brush your teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid irritating the sore. Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce the risk of infection—and as always, don’t forget to floss!

Mouth sores FAQs 

Over-the-counter oral gels or creams containing benzocaine or lidocaine can provide temporary pain relief. Additionally, rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution multiple times a day can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. 

The most common cause is minor trauma, like unintentional bites or burns from hot food. Mouth sores can be caused by viral infections, like the herpes simplex virus whose outbreaks can result in cold sores. Other causes include bacterial or fungal infections, immune system disorders, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes and certain medications.

The exact cause of canker sores is still unknown. However, various factors can trigger their development, including accidental bites, irritation from braces or dental work, citrus or spicy foods, hormonal changes, stress and a weak immune system.

Traditional braces can cause mouth sores from sharp metal wires or brackets. Ill-fitting dentures can also cause mouth sores. See your Aspen Dental dentist to see if your dental appliances can be adjusted to prevent further mouth sores.

Keep the area clean and dry and avoid saliva buildup. You can apply petroleum jelly or a thin layer of antifungal cream to help alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

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