Why Do You Get Mouth Sores?

Woman that has a mouth sore.

Often, genetic or systemic conditions cause mouth sores, but your oral hygiene and what you are ingesting can cause these sores as well. Products such as chewing tobacco and cigarettes are major culprits for mouth sores and even oral cancer. Let us help you to know what kind of mouth sores you are getting, why they happen, and what you can do to help them go away!


Mouth Sores

Nobody likes to hear the word “sore” and they like it even less if they have sores. The mouth is a common area that patients get sores because they manifest will illnesses, with the foods you eat, from stress and tons of factors. For many illnesses like thrush, herpangina, and hand, foot and mouth disease, mouth sores are one of the symptoms. It’s actually a great way for the body to tell you (or a doctor) what exactly is going on with your body when you’re sick. However, on a daily basis, it’s not a good thing to have mouth sores. They can be unsightly, but they can also be quite painful. There are many types of mouth sores, but canker sores and cold sores are the most common.


Close-up of a young boy that has a mouth sore.

Canker Sores: What to Do

Have you ever had those small whitish spots inside your mouth that are painful? Those are what we call “canker sores”. These mouth sores can be very tiny or even dime-sized, but the latter is generally very rare. Many people notice that they get canker sores when they have been under a lot of stress. If you notice that this is when you get them, that might be the reason. This is because canker sores are actually considered to be tiny ulcers, which are often brought on by stress. If you get these mouth sores often, try to get organized and find ways to de-stress.


If you continue to get canker sores, it could be from injuring the tissues of your mouth. If you bite your lip or cheek, the area can get cut open and infected, which will produce a canker sore. Cutting your cheeks with braces appliances will also do this. Studies show that recurring canker sores or having them very frequently could be a sign of a larger chronic condition such as celiac or Crohn’s disease. A vitamin deficiency could also cause them if you don’t get good nutrition.


To stop the pain, salt water rinses are great to do. These can help bring soothing relief to a canker sore and can help them go away quicker. If your mouth sores are chronic, there are over-the-counter and prescription medicines that can help. However, the best way to get rid of them is to keep your mouth clean through brushing and flossing and avoid acidic foods and drinks so canker sores don’t worsen.


What Are Cold Sores?

Cold sores are not something patients can get from what they eat or how they brush and floss. These mouth sores actually come from the herpes simplex virus, so you have to be exposed to it through saliva (like kissing) or have it in your system at birth. Patients with these mouth sores will get painful blisters around their lips, on the outside of their mouth. These can last for weeks and can flare up all the time or only every once in a blue moon.


When you start to feel a blister forming (and patients can tell), using over-the-counter creams and medications can help reduce how bad they get. Some can even make your mouth sores go away much faster. If you are prone to cold sores, make sure you try to minimize your contact with sunlight, very cold weather and stress. Mouth injuries as well as poor oral hygiene can make these mouth sores flare up, so make sure to protect your smile through proper hygiene and mouth guard protection!


Woman that has a mouth sore.

Salt and Other Aids

If you’ve ever had your wisdom teeth out, then you were probably told to do warm salt-water rinses to clean and heal your incisions. That is because salt is naturally an “isotonic solution”, or a solution that works well with the body because it is made of minerals, just like the body is. Mouthwash and chemicals can irritate mouth sores and make them worse, but salt can gently heal them.


To do a salt water rinse, you warm a cup of water and dissolve an ample amount of salt into the solution until it is very salty. Then you take turns swishing the solution in your mouth for 20-30 seconds at a time. The more you do this, the quicker your mouth sores can heal, because the salt helps accelerate the healing your tissues do. Salt also diminishes how acidic your mouth is, which reduces bacteria and your risk for tooth decay.


What Can You Do?

Make sure you get good nutrition. Some vitamin deficiencies cause you to have mouth sores. A deficiency in folate—or one nutrient that most people don’t get enough of—causes mouth sores. If you are anemic, this is why you are deficient in folate. A vitamin B-12 deficiency will also cause them and a lack of calcium can make cankers worse. Bottom line: eat well and take a vitamin supplement if you need one.


Make sure your oral hygiene is in tip-top shape as well. If your mouth is dirty a lot, one tiny nick, cut or biting your cheek could lead to a mouth sore due to infection. When you are brushing and flossing often, you can minimize the bacteria in your mouth. Seeing your dentist for help is also a good recommendation. Dentists see mouth sores all the time and can identify the problem and make suggestions for healing that are specific to your situations. If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen the dentist, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!