As your local dentist, serving Anchorage and surrounding communities like Eagle River, I don’t just treat your teeth. I help you maintain your overall oral health, which includes dealing with mouth sores. For some types of sores, we will refer you to an oral surgeon, but we can deal with many in our office.

If you live in the Anchorage area and have a mouth sore that lasts more than a week or two; come and see me. Mouth sores can be an indicator of disease, and an early assessment is the best bet. A better understanding of your mouth sores can lead quickly to comfort and a resolution. If necessary, we offer gum disease treatment and pain relief.

There are two common types of mouth sores that are common: canker sores and cold sores.

young adult woman holding her mouth in pain

Canker Sores

Canker sores are small ulcer-like sores with a white or gray base and a red border.They are also called aphthous ulcers.  They are found on the inside of the mouth, and while they are not contagious, they can be painful. Typically a canker sore heals in a week or two. Antimicrobal mouth-rinses, over-the-counter topical anesthetics, and avoiding spicy and acidic foods may offer you temporary relief while your sore is healing.

However, some people develop major canker sores. These sores are larger and deeper, and usually round. They can be extremely painful and may take up to six weeks to heal. When you have this type of sores, they may leave scars in your mouth.

Herpetiform canker sores are tiny (pinpoint size), but occur in clusters of up to 100 sores that can merge into a large ulcer. They aren’t as painful and heal without scarring after a week or two. They are not caused by a herpes virus infection.

The cause of canker sores is not certain. Possible explanations range from a cut on the inside the mouth, and reactions to extreme temperatures or acids from food or drink, to fatigue, stress, and allergies. Some studies point to bacteria or viruses, or combinations of all these factors.

Cold Sores

Cold sores, also called fever blisters or Herpes simplex, are groups of fluid-filled blisters that often appear around the lips, sometimes appearing under the nose or around the chin. They are contagious and painful, but usually heal in about a week. Some over-the-counter anesthetics may provide relief. There are some antiviral drugs on the market that have shown promise in reducing outbreaks, and laser treatment is effective at extending the time between outbreaks, but there is currently no known cure. The initial infection, known as primary herpes, often occurs before adulthood. Once the virus infects you, it may stay in your body and remain inactive or cause occasional cold sore outbreaks. Outbreaks may be triggered by a fever, sunburn, skin abrasions, stress, or exposure to extremes in temperature.

Prevention and Treatment

As your dentist, I can’t do much to stop canker sores or cold sores in your mouth. I can discuss the health of your mouth, and examine any causes that make your mouth sore. In some cases a change in the way you care for your mouth can reduce the chances of getting mouth sores. Among some suggestions to your diet, you may avoid the discomfort of eating and help to increase the speed of healing by eating the following:

  • Cream Soups
  • Yogurt
  • Hot Cereal
  • Mash Potatoes
  • Pudding

Just remember to keep you meals bland for awhile and drink with a straw.

Keep these in mind the next time you suffer from mouth sores. If you are in the Anchorage, and would like to speak with an Anchorage dentist call Excellence in Dentistry at (907) 349-0022.