Mouth Sores/Spots

Mouth Sores/Spots

image of cold sore

Mouth sores – often called “canker sores” or “cold sores” – can be painful. Fortunately, they are also preventable and treatable. 

In this post, we explain what mouth sores and spots actually are and what you can do to combat them. Read on to learn more. 

What Are Mouth Sores? 

Mouth sores look like little red or white bumps in your mouth and are typically a different color from the surrounding tissue. The color difference comes from dead cells and food debris. When a mouth sore forms, it creates a tiny hole in the tissue which then fills. 

Patients often get sores on their tongues, however, they can appear on the gums, under the tongue, the roof of the mouth and the inside of the cheeks as well. Some also erupt outside the mouth as well, particularly around the lips, nose and chin. 

What Causes Mouth Sores?

Mouth sores are caused by a variety of factors. 

Viral and bacterial infections are the most common causes. The herpes simplex virus, for instance, is a well-known cause of recurrent mouth sores. However, varicella-zoster – the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles – is also responsible for many patients’ symptoms. 

You may also experience mouth sores because of:

  • Other infections, such as those caused by fungi
  • Tobacco use (as compounds in cigarette smoke can break down the delicate mucous membrane lining in the mouth)
  • Injury when chewing
  • Rubbing from dentures or other oral prosthetics
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment
  • Oral cancer
  • Eating irritating foods
  • Certain chemicals in toothpaste and mouthwash preparations