What are mouth sores and infections?

Mouth lesions are sores and other irritations that may appear on the mouth, tongue, or lips.
About one-third of the population has or will have mouth lesions at some point. Mouth lesions can be of several types: thrush, cold sores and candidiasis are the most common. In addition, sores, irritations and oral lesions are painful, unsightly, and can interfere with feeding and speech. Any oral sores that persist for a week or more should be examined by a professional.

Signs and symptoms

You must pay attention to the following symptoms, which may indicate if you have a sore or an oral lesion:

  • Canker sores are white swellings surrounded by a reddened area. They are not contagious and are often mistaken for cold sores caused by the herpes virus. While the exact cause is unknown, some experts believe that problems with the immune system, bacteria, or viruses may be involved, so they are often recurrent and come back throughout life. Factors such as stress, trauma, allergies, smoking, iron deficiency or other vitamins and heredity also contribute to a person being more prone to suffer from thrush.
  • Cold sores are a group of blisters that appear around the lips and sometimes under the nose or chin. Cold sores, usually, are caused by a type of herpes virus and are very contagious. The first infection usually occurs in children, sometimes without symptoms, and may be mistaken for a cold or the flu. Once the person has become infected, the virus remains in the body, causing recurrent attacks occasionally. In some people, however, the virus remains inactive.
  • Candidiasis – thrush – is an infection caused by candida albicans (a fungus). It forms yellowish or reddish plaques that appear on the moist surfaces of the mouth. The tissues under the plaque may hurt. Oral fungal infection occurs most often in those who use dental prostheses, newborns, people debilitated by an illness, and people whose immune system does not function properly. Those who have dry mouth, who are taking or have just finished an antibiotic treatment, are also likely to have the infection.

How are mouth sores and infections treated?

Treatment varies depending on the type of disorder you have. For the most common types of sores and oral disorders described above, the treatment is as follows:

  • Canker sores – canker sores usually heal after 7 to 10 days, although recurrent sprouts are common. Over-the-counter topical ointments and pain relievers provide temporary relief. Using antimicrobial mouthwashes helps reduce irritation. Sometimes, antibiotics are prescribed to reduce a secondary infection.
  • Cold sores – blisters usually go away in about a week. Since herpes infections have no cure, blisters can recur during periods of emotional distress, exposure to sunlight, allergies, or fever. Topical anesthetics can provide temporary relief. Prescription antiviral drugs can reduce these types of viral infections. Consult your doctor or dentist about it.
  • Candidiasis – the treatment consists of controlling the disorders that cause the outbreaks.

–  The cleaning of dental prostheses is important to prevent dental problems. It is helpful to remove the prosthesis at night.
–  If the cause is the use of antibiotics or oral contraceptives, you may need to reduce the dose or change the treatment.
–  There are saliva substitutes to treat dry mouth.
–  When the underlying cause is unavoidable or incurable, you can use antifungal medications.
–  Correct oral hygiene is essential.