Mouth Sores – What is it and How to treat it?

By Vanessa Richards

January 10, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man


A mouth sore may seem like a trivial health issue. Yes, this mouth disease may never carry the severity of something as serious as a kidney stone.

But, they do pose a painful and inconvenient problem. Also, certain types carry serious health implications.

That necessitates tackling poor oral hygiene or may involve taking a closer look at your weakened immune system.

Here, let’s dig deeper to know what mouth sores are and which prevention and treatments you can keep handy.

What Are Mouth Sores?

These represent a broader range of lesions in the oral cavity. These have varying complexity.

These can include something that goes away on its own. Also, it may indicate something as serious as cancer.

Mouth sores

Types of Mouth Sores

Mouth sores can be used as an umbrella term for oral lesions having varied symptoms.

Mouth sores include the following types:

  • Cold sores or fever blisters
  • Mouth ulcers or canker sores (also known as aphthous ulcers)
  • Sores in oral cancer
  • Lichen planus
  • Gingivostomatitis
  • Oral thrush

Are Mouth Sores Age and Gender-specific?

Anyone can develop these, but certain types have an age-based affinity. Like Gingivostomatitis, it is a common mouth disease among children.

Younger adults are more prone to develop canker sores. But, lichen planus mostly affects individuals aged 50 years or above.

Gender may also play a role in developing this type of mouth sore. Like, females are more prone to getting lichen planus.

Where Do Mouth Sores Occur?

These occur in the oral cavity. Specifically, they can be found in lips, gums, and tongues.

You can also get these on the floor or roof of the mouth or inner cheeks. But, some varieties have location preferences.

Like, canker sores develop inside the mouth. But, any cold sore is found outside the mouth on lips.

What Do Mouth Sores Look Like?

What they look like may depend on their varieties. Moreover, canker sores themselves have three forms, and each of these appears different.

The minor ones are small and round, while the major ones are bigger with irregular edges. The herpetiform types, having small sizes, occur in clusters.

Cold sores are fluid-filled little blisters. Sores in mouth cancers may bleed or form crusty spots.

Gingivostomatitis may look similar to canker sores. It develops tender sores that appear grayish or yellowish outside with a red center.

Thrush has a quite distinct look. It appears like a bed of spread-out cottage cheese. It produces white and raised oral lesions.

These, on getting worse, cause redness.

How lichen planus looks depends on its type. The reticular type produces slightly-raised creamy white lesions or patches. The erosive variety forms red patches in gum tissues.

The Causes of Mouth Sores

Various factors can cause mouth sores and their varieties. Canker sores or mouth ulcers are caused by many factors starting from vitamin deficiency to mouth injury.

Also, it may occur as an underlying sign of Celiac disease or autoimmune diseases like AIDS. But, developing any case of a canker sore can have simple reasons like stress and hormonal changes.

A combination of these two makes pregnant women more likely to get this type.

Viruses can also cause mouth sores. Like, the herpes simplex virus causes fever blisters.

The presence of the viral infection makes it highly contagious. Type 1 of the herpes simplex virus may also lead to gingivostomatitis.

It can also be caused by the Coxsackie virus, bacterial infections, or poor oral hygiene.

Apart from bacterial or viral infections, fungal infections can also develop mouth sores. Like, candida causes thrush.

But, not everyone who develops mouth sores has an explainable cause. Like, lichen planus seems to lack a distinct causal factor. However, research blames certain medications like anti-inflammatory drugs and diseases like hepatitis B.

Oral or mouth cancer is caused by a DNA mutation in normal squamous cells.

Food does not happen to be a common factor in causing any mouth sore. But, you can burn your mouth from having very hot foods that may develop mouth sores.

What Are The Symptoms of Mouth Sores?


Most mouth sores cause difficulty swallowing and chewing foods. Furthermore, when it deteriorates, it may spread to the throat and cause problems during drinking and other symptoms.

But, usually, major symptoms may vary depending on the types of mouth sores.

Thrush causes soreness and discomfort. The white plaques may cause bleeding.

Canker sores may have a surrounding deep red area or border. These lesions may look white, yellow, or grey.

The symptoms of mouth cancer may seem similar to that of other types. But, if you have bleeding lesions or white patches on your mouth persisting with simple treatments, it may indicate oral cancer.

Lichen planus produce swollen sores and may cause irritation during having acidic food or cold beverages. Also, skin lesions accompany approximately half of the people with this type of mouth sore.

Gingivostomatitis may cause differences in the level of severity. But, it is characterized by swollen gums, fever, and bad breath.

Commonly affecting children, it is known to develop drooling and lethargy. Younger ones may have more problems with eating and may refuse to consume any food.

You can get cold sores more than once in your lifetime. It may become severe for the first time.

The symptoms vary depending on the phases. Initially, before the appearance of lesions, you may feel itching in the mouth.

After the formation of the sores, the affected areas cause redness and pain. During the weeping phase, the blisters give out the grayish or yellowish fluid.

As it heals, cold sores form a scab and fall off. It makes the skin look more reddish or pink than the usual shade.

How Do Mouth Sores Spread?

How mouth sores spread depends on their types. Canker sores and oral lichen planus are not infectious, while cold sores are.

So, you cannot spread the former two. But, cold sores get spread through kissing or sharing items in close contact with the mouth of affected individuals.

Oral thrush can spread among people having a weakened immune system. But, it hardly acts as an infectious issue for healthy people.

Oral cancer, another type of mouth sore, is not spreadable. But, gingivostomatitis can spread from affected individuals.

Diagnosis Of Mouth Sores

Mouth sores

What factors cause mouth sores to determine their diagnosis. Canker sores require a physical examination and blood tests.

Lichen planus calls for the oral examination. Besides, it needs a tissue biopsy.

Gingivostomatitis requires mouth examination. It also needs a biopsy to check the causal agent.

Apart from visual checking, cold sores need to detect the presence of the herpes simplex virus. For this, doctors may take the fluid from the affected areas using a cotton swab.

Diagnosing cancer-induced sores include examining affected areas. It may also encompass biopsy for checking the cancerous growth of cells.

Checking oral thrush necessitates detecting the presence of a fungal infection. It requires microscopic examination of lesion scrapping.

How Do You Heal A Sore In Your Mouth?

Not all mouth sores need you to see a doctor. Some types like canker sores or mouth ulcers get resolved on their own within a week or two.

Moreover, 85% of the people with canker sores develop the mildest form that doesn’t require treatments. But, recurring ulcers without any healing or with severe pain may require you to see a doctor.

Curing thrush for healthy individuals is easier. For these, doctors prescribe anti-fungal medicines like nystatin.

But, people with compromised immune systems may have a tougher time with thrush. Also, a yeast infection may indicate an underlying medical problem.

So, it necessitates proper diagnosis that ends in apt medical prescribing. Healing the infection will also cure the thrush.

The healing of lichen planus may depend on its severity. The milder forms may get cured without any treatment.

However, the severe forms may need corticosteroids.

Cancer-related sores in the mouth may need pain relievers. But, in this case, its cure depends on the ongoing progress of the cancer treatment.

On the other hand, gingivostomatitis may require antibiotics to treat the infection. In some cases, doctors may clean the plaque or affected areas.

Any case of a cold sore may need antiviral medicines. Also, to relieve its symptoms, you can use creams, ointments, and non-cosmetic lip balm.

Does food or brushing play a role in the healing process of mouth sores?

You need to optimize your drinking and eating process to aid in curing mouth sores. Avoiding spicy foods helps a lot.

Otherwise, food irritants may harm the oral mucosal lesions. Also, eating hot food may not seem comfortable when you have mouth sores on your inner cheeks.

Too cold foods can also be a cause of concern. So, while having oral sores, it is better to consume non-spicy soft foods at room temperatures.

The presence of excess salt in food or salt-coated foods may cause discomfort in inflamed mucous membranes of sores. Thus, excluding salty foods or salt water seems a wise thing to do.

Brushing your teeth while having mouth sores can be painful. But, avoiding or reducing brushing is not the solution since lack of hygiene favors their severity.

So, you can opt for a soft toothbrush.

Can Mouth Sores Be Prevented?

Canker sores may not be prevented, but following some strategies may lower their frequencies. These include avoiding food irritants, checking diet, and following good oral hygiene.

Moreover, chronic problems like oral lichen planus lack any preventive strategies. But, you can have an optimized diet with no drinking and smoking to reduce the risk factors.

mouth sores

The same goes for preventing cancer-induced mouth sores.

Mouth sores caused by fungal, bacterial, or viral infections require specific preventive strategies. So, preventing cold sores and gingivostomatitis need you to avoid contact with the herpes simplex virus.

However, preventing oral thrush requires avoiding poorly fitting dentures. This helps in lowering the chances of candida infection.

Also, you need to keep your blood sugar level controlled if you have diabetes. It discourages candida growth.

Using nourishment to prevent mouth sores

As we can see, different mouth sore types need varied preventive strategies. Also, it differs based on the causes of mouth sores.

But, your diet plays a good role in avoiding mouth sores irrespective of their types.

Supplements promote good oral health. It makes you less susceptible to lesions in soft tissues in the oral cavity.

Best Supplements for Oral Health

ProductKey Feature
Steel Bite ProTop Consumer's Choice
G-Force Teeth and GumsBest Natural Antibiotics Properties
DentitoxBest Natural Building Blocks Ingredients
ProMind ComplexBest For Dental and Mental Health
DentiviveBest Overall Dental Health
Denti Strength Best Dental Hygiene Support

Let’s take a look at each of the supplements in detail;

1. Top Consumer’s Choice: Thomas Spear Steel Bite Pro

mouth sores

The top consumer’s choice that tones down the risk of oral infections.

Also, it has a concoction of 29 important ingredients. No wonder, it makes your teeth roots, and gum strong.

Also, it has bagged positive reviews elsewhere. Along with Thomas Spear Steel Bite Pro, there are some other beneficial supplements for preventing mouth sores.

Shop at the Official Website.

2. Best Natural Antibiotics Properties: Daniel Moore G-Force Teeth GUMS Supplement

mouth sores

It is helpful for lowering the chances of mouth infections.

Shop at the Official Website.

3. Best Natural Building Blocks Ingredients: Marc Hall Dentitox

mouth sores

Its essential vitamins can be a good option for vitamin-deficiency-induced sores.

Shop at the Official Website.

4. Best For Dental and Mental Health: ProMind Complex

mouth sores

It improves both dental and mental health. By promoting improved mental health, it addresses oral mucosal lesions resulting from stress.

Shop at the Official Website.

5. Best Overall Dental Health: Michael Clark Dentivive

mouth sores

It promotes dental wellness and resolves problems like inflammation.

Shop at the Official Website.

6. Best Dental Hygiene Support: Denti Strength

mouth sores

It helps in developing healthy gums and prevents bacterial infections.

Shop at the Official Website.

>> Related Article: 7 Best Supplements and Vitamins for Gum and Oral Health in 2024

Mouth Rinse for Lowering Chances of Mouth Sores

Just like supplements, you can keep good mouthwashes handy to have good oral health. This keeps mouth sores at bay.

Best Mouthwash for Oral Health

ProductKey Feature
Crest Pro-Health Multi-ProtectionTop Consumer's Choice
ACT Total Care Anticavity FlourideBest Dentist Recommended Mouthwash
Crest Pro-Health Advanced with Extra WhiteningBest Whitening Mouthwash
ACT Dry MouthBest Mouthwash for Dry Mouth
Listerine Cool Mint AntisepticBest Natural Mouthwash
Colgate Total Pro-Shield

Best Mouthwash for Deeper Clean
CloSYS Ultra SensitiveBest Mouthwash for Sensitive Mouth
TheraBreath Fresh Breath
Best Mouthwash for Fresh Breath
Crest Scope Classic MouthwashBest Mouthwash for Oral Health

1. Top Consumer’s Choice: Crest Pro-health Multi-protection

mouth sores

This alcohol-free mouth wash prevents infectious growth, bad breath, and plaque. Also, it ramps up the effectiveness of brushing.

So, you can use this regularly following brushing and flossing to fight the causes of mouth sores. Besides this, there are other effective mouth rinses.

Shop at the Official Amazon Store.

2. Best Dentist Recommended Mouthwash: ACT Total Care Anticavity Fluoride

mouth sores

It keeps the mouth tissue and teeth healthy.

Shop at the Official Amazon Store.

3. Best Whitening Mouthwash: Crest Pro-Health Advanced 

mouth sores

This mint-flavored mouthwash improves the health of teeth and gums.

Shop at the Official Amazon Store.

4. Best Mouthwash for Dry Mouth: Act Dry Mouth

mouth sores

Specialized for soothing dry mouth, this also positively influences oral health.

Shop at the Official Amazon Store.

5. Best Natural Mouthwash: Listerine Cool Mint Antiseptic

mouth sores

It has antiseptic properties and prevents the buildup of plaque.

Shop at the Official Amazon Store.

6. Best Mouthwash for Deeper Clean: Colgate Total Pro-shield

mouth sores

This alcohol-free mouth wash reduces bacterial growth.

Also, it improves gum health.

Shop at the Official Amazon Store.

7. Best Mouthwash for Sensitive Mouth: Closys Ultra Sensitive

mouth sores

Designed for sensitive mouths, it is effective in reducing bacterial growth.

Shop at the Official Amazon Store.

8. Best Mouthwash for Fresh Breath: TheraBreath Fresh Breath

mouth sores

It prevents oral infections caused by sulfur-producing bacteria.

Shop at the Official Amazon Store.

9.Best Mouthwash for Oral Health: Crest Scope Classic Mouthwash

mouth sores

It keeps the mouth clean and discourages the growth of infectious agents.

Shop at the Official Amazon Store.

>> Related Article: Best Mouthwash • Top Product Reviews of 2024

Handy Facts For Common Types Of Mouth Sores

Canker sores or mouth ulcers

Treatment options for any canker sore may need anesthetics, corticosteroids, or mouth rinses.

But, determining its cause is pivotal to the success of its treatment. Curing vitamin-deficiency-induced canker sores depends on meeting the vitamin requirements.

Cold sores

For any cold sore, you can use a cool compress. It helps in easing out the pain or discomfort.


Mouth sores are common oral health issues. But, it surely makes your life hazardous.

Knowing what type of mouth sore you have holds the key to successful prevention and healing. However, unexplained mouth sores may need immediate medical attention.

To prevent mouth sores of any type, you need to have a proper nutrient intake. In this regard, supplements like Thomas Spear Steel Bite Pro are the best options.

Also, adding Crest Pro-health Multi-protection to your routine will work wonders. Not only will it help prevent mouth sores but it will significantly improve overall oral health.

Click here to get Steel Bite Pro at a Discounted Price

Mouth Sores FAQs

Should I be concerned about mouth sores?

These can be pretty common and harmless though types may vary. Certain types stay for a maximum of two weeks and go away on their own.

But, if it persists for a long time, even with treatment, you have cause for concern. Also, check if it bleeds or gets swollen with time.

Is consulting a doctor mandatory if mouth sores may not cause any pain or trouble?

Consulting experts may not be compulsory. But, for peace of mind, it never hurts to go for a medical checkup.

It should be noted that stay cautious while using over-the-counter medicines. Also, don’t blindly follow peer-recommended remedies or medicines from online sources.

Do any specific categories of people with mouth sores need extra care?

Yes, pregnant women with mouth sores may need to consult doctors while using any remedy or medicine. Affected children may face more difficulty in eating and may need extra parental care.

People with poor immunity or autoimmune diseases may need to see if mouth sores are indicative of underlying health issues. Apart from these categories, affected older adults may need special care.

Vanessa Richards

Vanessa is a mom of 3 lovely children and a software geek. Outside of her career as a health and wellness instructor. She enjoys writing and researching on topics such as finance, software, health and culinary.

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