What Are Mouth Sores and What Causes It?

Mouth sores are a common problem plaguing more than a third of the Americans every single year. They are a painful bother that affect the quality of life that one leads. They actually account for more than 15% of all doctor and emergency room visits in the country. A lot of people actually suffer from mouth sores but they don’t quite understand what the sores are and what causes it. This is why we want to take a deeper look at what mouth sores are, what causes them and how to treat them.

what are mouth sores?

Canker sores or mouth sores as they are commonly referred to are annoying painful irritations inside the mouth, on the lips and even on the surface of the throat. The painful ulcers are small lesions normally less than a centimeter in size with a red border which makes them look like they have pus in them. They are very painful especially when they rapture and can affect the way you chew foods, drink and even your utterance of words. There are very many different causes of canker sores but these are the most common;

Causes of canker sores

Anxiety and stress

When you are stressed or are under too much pressure, your body uses up a lot of vitamins and there is a deficiency in the body. The body also tends to produce more cortisol when one is stressed. The lack of enough vitamins together with the overproduction of cortisol weakens the immunity and you are susceptible to infections such as the mouth sores.


Some of the canker sores are caused by infections such as herpes simplex infection. These are the aphthous types of sores and require very rapid treatment.


Some cases of canker sores are as a result of inherited genes. The inherited genes of weaker immunities mean that the individuals are susceptible to infections and recurrent mouth sores.

Environmental factors

Some environments such as extremely cold temperatures or very hot climatic conditions are likely to cause the mouth sores or accelerate their recurrence.

Food allergies

Some people develop mouth sores from eating or being exposed to foods they are allergic to. Their bodies react by producing lots of histamines and other defensive chemicals which are capable of causing skin rashes and mouth sores. Some of the most common foods associated with the development of canker sores include acidic foods, eggplants, tomatoes and gluten.

Trauma and accidents

Sometimes the mouth sores are caused by accidents or piercing by very sharp objects. Other people bite their lips by accident when chewing or talking and this leads to open sores which are very painful. The lips and tissue in the mouth is very thin and piercing it takes very little effort. Sometimes even hot foods can burn the inside of the mouth and lead to the development of the sores.

Signs and symptoms of mouth sores

As earlier on mentioned, canker sores are characterized by a red ulcer or lesion which is very small and has a red border around it. This makes them very painful and will make chewing of hot foods and drinking hot drinks very difficult. It is therefore wise to report the canker sores to the emergency room as soon as you detect them so that proper diagnosis can be done and the right medication administered.

Treatment of canker sores

There are very many home remedies and medications available for mouth sores. Medication is recommended for the sores that are caused by infections because lack of urgent treatment can be detrimental. A lot of the other mouth sores are relatively harmless and will resolve by themselves in a few days. Here are some of the common treatment options that you can use to treat canker sores;

  • Keep your mouth clean by brushing regularly and flossing after every meal. This eliminates any bacteria that can cause the sores.
  • Regularly rinse your mouth with warm salty water as this helps to not only kill any bacteria in the mouth but accelerate the healing process.
  • Take pain relieving medication such as paracetamol. This will help reduce the pain and keep you going.
  • Apply antiseptic gels to the sores to prevent any further infections. Steroid gels and tablets have also been found to accelerate the healing process of the sores.
  • Use of immune-suppressant medication to stifle the sores.

Although canker sores look relatively harmless, they can be a painful both and need to be treated as soon as possible. They are also not contagious and coming into contact with someone else’s sores will not result in infection. They however are open wounds and are channels for transmission of diseases.

Report canker sores to the nearest dental emergency room especially if you don’t know what exactly caused them for you to stay safe.