Mouth sores refer to a larger group of irritations that include canker sores. Mouth sores can appear anywhere in or around the mouth including the lips, inside the cheeks, on the tongue, or the gumline. Causes of mouth sores vary from infection to hormone imbalances. In most cases, they are a minor inconvenience that usually lasts around two weeks. But, in some cases, they can be a sign of something more and may be a reason to see your dentist.
Preventing Mouth Sores
Because mouth sores have a wide variety of causes it is not easy to prevent yourself from getting one. At some point, every person has to deal with a mouth sore. But there are things you can do to avoid some of the causes of mouth sores. Having good oral hygiene can prevent viral infection. Brushing your teeth properly twice daily as well as using floss and mouthwash can help prevent mouth sores. Eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding eating too much acidic and sugary foods can also prevent mouth sores.
Treating Mouth Sores
Once you have a mouth sore there are a few ways you can treat it to lessen the pain and irritation. Avoid eating sour or spicy foods when you have a mouth sore. Rinse your mouth out daily with warm salted water to clear out bacteria. For this method, mix a teaspoon of salt into a half a cup of warm water. If you use mouthwash, make sure it is alcohol-free because other mouthwashes may cause more irritation. You can also apply an antiseptic gel directly to the mouth sore.
When Should You See Your Dentist?
Though most mouth sores are nothing to be concerned about, some mouth sores can actually be a sign of oral cancer or an autoimmune disease. In those cases, it is necessary that you see a dentist. Signs that your sore is more than a usual sore is if it is accompanied by symptoms including swollen lymph nodes, sluggishness, fever, joint pain, and rashes. You should also see a dentist if the sore(s) return frequently, last for longer than three weeks, or they are painful to the point that you have difficulty eating or drinking even when taking over the counter pain medication.