Sores in or around your mouth are painful and unsightly. They can have a variety of causes, such as infections, irritation from orthodontics or dentures, and symptoms of another health problem. Here are descriptions of the most common mouth sores.
Also called fever blisters, cold sores appear around your lips, nose, or chin. These extremely contagious, fluid-filled blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. Once you are infected with primary herpes, the virus remains in your body and occasionally flares up. Cold sores typically heal by themselves in about a week. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics may help, and your dentist may prescribe antiviral medications to reduce occurrences.
These small ulcers only appear inside your mouth. They are white or gray with a red border, and are not contagious. Experts are unsure of the exact cause, but suspect they are related to immune system deficiencies, viruses, or bacteria. Canker sores usually heal on their own in a week or two. It is advised to avoid spicy, hot, or acidic foods that can irritate the sore. Over-the-counter mouthwashes or topical anesthetics may help, and your dentist may prescribe antibiotics if a secondary infection occurs.
Oral thrush, or candidiasis, is a fungal infection occurring when the yeast Candida albicans reproduces in great amounts. Common with denture wearers, it most often appears in people with weakened immune systems such as the elderly or ill. People with dry mouth or who are on antibiotics are also at greater risk for thrush. The key to controlling candidiasis is treating the condition that causes it. Dentures should be cleaned regularly and removed at bedtime, and dry mouth should be treated in an effort to lessen that condition.
Leukoplakia are thick, white patches that grow on the inside of your cheeks, gums or tongue. Common with tobacco users, they result from irritations from habits like chewing on your cheek or wearing ill-fitting dentures. Leukoplakia are also associated with oral cancer. Treatment focuses on addressing the reasons for the lesion, such as quitting smoking or replacing dentures.
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