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Mouth Sores - Topic Overview

Mouth sores may make eating and talking painful. The most common mouth sores are cold sores and canker sores. In severe cases of canker sores, a doctor may prescribe a medicine to ease inflammation and pain.

Other possible causes of mouth sores include:

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  • Impetigo. Symptoms may include oozing, honey-colored, crusty sores that appear on the face, usually between the upper lip and nose. Impetigo is more common in children than adults.
  • Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (Coxsackie virus), in children. Ulcers may appear on the inside of the cheeks and on the gums and sides of the tongue, usually lasting 2 to 3 days. These symptoms, which usually are mild, may also occur with a blister-type rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Although the mouth sores may only last 2 to 3 days, the illness may last a week.
  • Herpangina (Coxsackie virus). The virus most commonly occurs in the summer and autumn. It starts with a high fever, sore throat, headache, and a general feeling of illness (malaise). Usually, painful sores (ulcers) develop in the back of the mouth, especially the soft palate, within 24 to 48 hours of the fever. The illness lasts 7 to 10 days.
  • Medicines. Chemotherapy, sulfa drugs, phenytoin (such as Dilantin), and gold compounds are a few examples of medicines that can cause mouth sores.
  • Inflammation of the gum and mouth tissue (gingivostomatitis), which is common in children. A child who has gum sores and a fever or who does not feel well should be evaluated by a health professional.
  • Chickenpox. Chickenpox sores in the mouth look different than chickenpox on the body. In the mouth, the sores look like raised bumps (papules) and then turn into shallow ulcers. Sores on the body crust over after the blister stage, but crusting does not occur in the mouth.
  • Injury. Tongue ulcers may result from biting, chewing, or burning of the tongue.
  • Piercings. Mouth, tongue, and lip sores can be caused by the piercing itself or by irritation from the jewelry used in the piercing.
  • Oral cancer, which may develop in any part of the oral cavity. Your chances of getting oral cancer are increased if you smoke, use smokeless (spit) tobacco, or use alcohol excessively.
  • Skin diseases. Blisters in the mouth can be caused by immune system diseases, such as lichen planus, pemphigus vulgaris, pemphigoid, lupus, or erythema multiforme.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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