What Are Mouth Lesions?

Vitamin deficiencies may cause mouth lesions.
Most mouth lesions can be identified during a routine examinations.
Prescribed mouth rinses may help relieve mouth lesion discomfort.
Swollen lymph nodes may accompany mouth lesions.
Individuals under extreme stress may develop mouth lesions.
Article Details
  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Mouth lesions, also known as canker sores, are oval-shaped sores that form on the surface of the soft tissue inside the oral cavity. Resulting from various factors, including injury and stress, canker sores may manifest in different ways and impair one’s ability to eat or speak normally. There are a variety of treatments for mouth lesions and their use is dependent on the individual and severity of the lesion. A mouth lesion which does not heal, or worsens, may be indicative of a more serious condition and require additional medical attention.

Canker sores may be classified in three distinct categories. Minor sores are less than half an inch in diameter (about 12 mm), generally heal within two weeks, and leave no scar. Irregularly shaped mouth lesions, which are greater than half an inch in diameter, are considered major sores and may take over a month to heal and scar the affected tissue. Herpetiform mouth lesions are small, odd-shaped sores that form in clusters and may heal within two weeks without scarring. An individual with a mouth lesion may experience additional symptoms, including fever and swollen lymph nodes.

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There are a variety of factors which contribute to the development of mouth lesions. Individuals under extreme stress, have certain food allergies, or consume a diet lacking essential vitamins and minerals, including B-12, iron, and zinc, may be more susceptible to developing mouth lesions. Those who have sustained an injury to their mouth or accidentally bitten the inside of their cheek may be at an increased risk for developing a canker sore. The presence of disease, including inflammatory bowel disease and Behcet’s disease, or a compromised immune system may also contribute to an individual’s susceptibility for mouth sores.

There are no established tests for diagnosing a mouth lesion. Most sores are easily identifiable and may be discovered during a routine examination. Individuals who experience recurrent mouth sores, unmanageable or extreme discomfort with a mouth lesion, or extensive fever in the presence of a canker sore should seek immediate medical attention. Persistent symptoms may be indicative of a more serious condition requiring additional testing and treatment. Though mild canker sores usually do not require medical attention, larger mouth lesions usually do.

Prescribed mouth rinses are beneficial for reducing healing time and alleviating discomfort associated with larger mouth lesions, but their use may increase an individual's susceptibility to additional outbreaks. Topical medications may be applied directly to the lesion to alleviate discomfort and reduce healing time. For major sores, which do not respond to standard treatment, an oral antibiotic or steroidal medication may be prescribed. Sores which form as the result of an imbalanced diet may be alleviated through the use of nutritional supplements, which are available over the counter. Individuals who experience canker sores resulting from a secondary condition may undergo additional treatment to alleviate the underlying cause of the outbreaks.

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EarlyForest
Post 3

Although most mouth lesions are not a sign of anything serious, in rare cases they can be indicative of a sexually transmitted disease.

For instance, syphilis often produces mouth lesions in the early stage of the disease, and cold sores (different from canker sores, but still type of mouth lesion) is caused by a type of the herpes virus.

People with these kinds of mouth lesions should be careful in the contact that their mouth makes with others while they are infected to avoid infecting other people.

lightning88
Post 2

I've also heard that you can put salt on canker sores to dry them out.

It's supposed to hurt terribly, but a lot of people say it's very effective.

I can't stand for pain, so I always just stick with one of those dental painkilling gels until it goes away, but I have friends who always use the salt method.

Charlie89
Post 1

A lot of people say that antacid pills can really help with mouth lesions.

Apparently if you put a Tums or Rolaid on top of the canker sore, it will help to dry it out and heal it.

Baking soda, and baking soda based toothpastes are said to work as well.

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