Oral sores or lesions are common, and can sometimes mean that you have an infection or other medical condition. If you develop any sores in your mouth, it is important to see your dentist for a complete check-up and subsequent treatment. In the meantime, here are three different types of oral lesions and how you can identify them:
A fever blister is also known as a cold sore. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus and is characterized by blisters that are fluid-filled. The blisters usually appear in the area of the lip and mouth, where the skin meets the mucous membrane.
Cold sores often feel tingly before the outbreak occurs, and can sometimes cause pain, irritation, burning, and itching. These lesions are highly contagious and may develop during times of stress or when you are exposed to the sun.
Once you acquire the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores or fever blisters, the virus stays inside your body indefinitely, however, while many people have outbreaks, the virus can remain dormant or inactive in others.
Oral thrush is also known as candidiasis, which is a fungal infection caused by a type of yeast known as Candida albicans. If you develop white, yellow, or reddish plaques or patches inside your mouth that bleed easily, you may have an oral thrush infection.
The patches may be painful, and are most common in people who have diabetes, have compromised immune systems, and wear dentures. Oral fungal infections are also common in babies, as well as in people who don't produce enough saliva, or individuals who take antibiotics. If you develop an oral thrush infection, your dentist can recommend an anti-fungal mouthwash to help eliminate the offending microorganism.
Canker sores are very common and appear in your mouth as small white lesions that are often surrounded by areas of inflammation and redness. They are not contagious, but they may be mistaken for cold sores, which are.
One distinction between canker sores and cold sores are that canker sores develop inside your mouth, while cold sores typically develop on the outside of your mouth. Canker sores can be caused by vitamin deficiencies, drinking too much orange juice, eating large amounts of chocolate, infections, or problems with your immune function.
In addition, certain allergies, stress, and cigarette smoking can also raise your risk for developing canker sores. Swishing your mouth out a couple of times a day with a weak salt water solution can help treat canker sores, as can avoiding oral irritants such as hot beverages, spicy foods, alcohol, and smoking.
If you develop any of the above oral lesions, see your general dentist. When these sores are recognized and treated at the first sign, you are less likely to experience further tissue damage and discomfort.