Mouth sores: Everything you need to know

There are many potential causes of mouth sores. When these sores appear, they are often painful and can make everyday activities, such as brushing the teeth or eating hot food, more difficult.

In most cases, mild irritation causes a sore to appear. Avoiding the irritant can help a person prevent mouth sores in the future.

In other cases, sores form due to underlying health conditions. As some mouth sores can be contagious and may require treatment, anyone who is concerned about chronic or long-lasting sores should speak to a doctor.

In this article, learn about the possible causes of mouth sores as well as the treatment options.

 

Causes

Most mouth sores occur as a result of irritation. Many things can irritate the mouth and lead to sores, including:

  • poorly fitting dentures
  • a sharp or broken tooth
  • braces or other devices, such as retainers
  • burning the mouth on hot food or beverages
  • tobacco products

In other cases, mouth sores may develop due to:

  • certain medications, including beta-blockers
  • highly acidic foods
  • quitting tobacco
  • hormonal changes during pregnancy
  • stress
  • vitamin and folate deficiencies

Medical conditions and diseases that cause mouth sores include:

  • Candidiasis, or oral thrush, which is a fungal infection that causes white and red patches to appear in the mouth.
  • Herpes simplex, which causes cold sores on the mouth and can also produce genital sores.
  • Lichen planus, a chronic condition that causes an itchy, inflammatory rash in the mouth or on the skin.
  • Chronic canker sores, which have a red, flat edge and white or greyish patches surrounding them.
  • Gingivostomatitis, a common infection that is particularly prevalent in children. The sores are similar to canker sores, but they occur alongside symptoms of a cold or the flu.
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease, which causes small, painful red patches to appear on these parts of the body. It is most common in children.
  • Leukoplakia, which causes white-grey patches to appear nearly anywhere in the mouth.
  • Autoimmune diseases, which may cause mouth sores to form.
  • Erythroplakia, a red patch that appears on the floor of the mouth and can be cancerous or precancerous.
  • Oral cancer, which can cause sores and lesions in the mouth.