A wound in the mouth can be a result of a lot of different things. It can be oral cancer, it can be herpes, or just a cold sore, or an allergic reaction, or maybe even just a bite or irritation from vinegar or acidic foods. How do we tell the difference? In this article, we hope to clear the air about the most common causes of oral lesions.
Although not a scientific term at all, cold sores are the number one reason for lesions on and near the lips, inside the mouth and even on the tongue. Realistically, a cold sore is an outbreak of the herpes simplex virus, and it is essentially oral herpes. These outbreaks are usually small, with the skin becoming quite raw, and always coming to a head. The sore is caused by a proliferation of herpes, which some 80% of adults in the world have. The sore itself is pustulent and this pus dries into the head it has. The discharge can always be easily removed. Cold sores can be painful, but usually are just a little tender.
Certain allergies -particularly to medication, but sometimes also to certain foods- can cause a rash like sore in the mouth that is quite painful. This can easily be differentiated form a cold sore: while a cold sore is just that, a sore with discharge, allergic reactions are a rash of sorts, and will affect a larger area. This area can be raised and red, but not always, but it is always quite tender.
Also called canker sores, mouth ulcers can be caused by a number of different things. These kinds of ulcers appear on the mucus membrane and are mucosal ulcers. They can appear as shallow, spreading wound with irregular edges, or can be a cluster of small, pinhead sized lesions in the oral cavity, or just small, canker sore sized scabs. An ulcer is defined as a loss of surface tissue, with disintegration or necrosis. These ulcers can form around traumas in the mouth, and around unhealthy teeth as well, but can form on the inside of the lip, the palate or the gums. They never form on the outside of the lip, as they can only form on mucous membranes.
First ask yourself, where is the offending wound or lesion? If it is on the outside or on the lip it is almost always herpes, and if it is puffed up and very irritated around it, it is almost always allergies. The only way to be sure is to contact a dentist if you have any sort of damage in or near your oral cavity. Herpes and allergies usually do not usually affect the health of your gums and teeth (although they can in certain cases), but ulcers almost always do.