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When it comes to having oral lesions in your mouth, you are not alone. Common causes are infection, inflammation, and sometimes cancer. The most common causes, however, are viral and fungal infections. Following are a few of the most common causes of sores in the mouth, and how to treat them.

Cold Sores/Fever Blisters)

Even though you can’t really get cold sores from fevers or colds, they can trigger them. Because cold sores are contagious as well as viral, you want to avoid close contact with someone who has them (or vice versa) which means not sharing utensils or toothbrushes–which is not recommended anyway–or kissing. Don’t worry, it’s only temporary!

Cold sores are treated relatively easily by using over-the-counter creams or ointments to relieve pain and speed healing. If you get cold sores frequently, you can enlist a doctor’s help by getting a prescription.

Canker Sores

No one can really tell you why you get these lesions. These small, painful blisters are triggered by infection, hormones, hypersensitivity, stress or vitamin deficiency. You might get canker sores on your tongue, inside your cheek, or on the gums.

Canker sores don’t usually last more than a couple of weeks, but if they do linger past that, you can use medications, numbing creams, or have dental laser treatment to remove them.

Black Hairy Tongue

While black hairy tongue looks scary, it is actually harmless, painless, and temporary. What causes this strange-looking effect on your tongue? It happens when the little bumps on the tongue (papillae) grow and lengthen and trap oral bacteria, dyeing the tongue. It can be caused by lack of saliva production, antibiotic use and poor oral hygiene to tobacco use, or drinking lots of coffee and tea.

How do you get rid of it? Gently brush your tongue twice a day, using a toothbrush or tongue scraper, drink plenty of water, and if that doesn’t help, you can use medication to help.

Oral Cancer

You may have oral cancer if you have a sore that never goes away, and is accompanied by:

1) numbness in the face, mouth, or neck or

2) having trouble chewing, speaking or swallowing.

Oral cancer can be caused by a family history of cancer, long-term tobacco use, heavy drinking, overexposure to the sun, and even exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Oral cancer is a very treatable and highly curable type of cancer when detected early. If you are at higher risk, whether you have a family history of cancer, or you smoke, drink, or have been exposed to HPV, you may want to have your dentist check for oral cancer at your six month cleanings.

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like more information, please call our Biloxi Family Dental Care team at 228-388-7844 today!