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Four Common Types of Mouth Sores

Our mouths can be mysterious places: A lot can happen in there that we can neither see nor control. Naturally, when something goes wrong inside our mouth, it can be a huge cause for worry, especially if we can’t get a clear view of the problem. One of the most common pains in the mouth are mouth sores. Though it can be hard to tell what type of mouth sore you may have without visiting a dentist or doctor, it's pretty obvious when you have one (ouch!). Here are some of the most common types of mouth sores you may encounter - and what to do if you get one.

Canker Sores

Canker sores (also known as apthous ulcers) are probably the most common type of mouth sore you can get. Caused by hormones, stress, food sensitivity, injuries and more, these white lesions may be small, but they can sure pack a painful wallop. Thankfully they’re harmless and not contagious, but they can make everyday things like eating and speaking difficult.

Cold Sores

Cold sores occur outside of the mouth and are a bit more serious than canker sores - plus they are contagious. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), and an estimated 50 to 80 percent of all adults carry this virus (though some may never get a cold sore or show signs of having it). If you do get a cold sore, over-the-counter medications like Herpecin or Abbreva can help relieve the pain and shorten the life of the lesion.

Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is the result of a bacterial infection in the tooth’s nerve. If you have a dental abscess you may experience toothache pain, swollen lymph nodes, fever or sensitivity to hot and cold. A dental abscess should be treated by a dentist, either by draining the abscess, undergoing a root canal procedure, removing the tooth seated above it or with antibiotics. If you suspect you may have a dental abscess, contact Dr. Simpson’s office to schedule an appointment.


Thrush is a fungal infection common in babies, but it also may occur in adults and children. It is also common with adults who wear dentures. Also known as candidiasis, this fungal infection comes from an overgrowth of the yeast candida. It appears as white spots inside the mouth and may cause minor pain and difficulty swallowing.

If you believe you could have a more serious mouth sore, please contact Dr. Simpson’s office at 910-239-7167.

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