Mouth Sores and What’s Causing Them

Mouth Sores and What’s Causing Them

When you notice growths or lesions on your tongue, lips, gums, inner side of your cheeks or roof of your mouth, it’s highly likely that they are mouth sores. They are unpleasant and painful growths that can make your life difficult and leave you feeling pretty self-conscious. Aside from internal mouth sores, we also distinguish external mouth sores which are also called cold sores or canker sores.

Now, even though some of these sores tend to disappear on their own, depending on their cause. But there are also those that don’t disappear on their own and require medical treatment. Generally speaking, if your mouth sores don’t go away in two weeks, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist and have him/her take a look.

What is causing mouth sores?

Now that we have defined what mouth sores are, let’s see what are the main causes of these growths.


In most cases, mouth sores appear as a result of irritation or injury. The best example of injury is when you accidentally bite the inside of your cheek. If you wear dentures or maybe a tongue piercing, the material might irritate the inner cheek or soft tissue of your mouth causing a sore.


Medication, for example antibiotics, which are used in treating infections, can also cause sores as one of the side effects. Once you stop your treatment with antibiotics, the sores should disappear on their own.

Food can also cause mouth sores

You may not know this, but food can also cause sores, especially if it’s spicy or acidic. Spicy and acidic food car irritate the inner soft tissue of your mouth. These sores can also develop if there’s an existing injury, maybe a tiny cut or infection. So if you tend to consume a lot of spicy food and acidic drinks (lemon, cider etc.) and you notice that you have a mouth sore, that might be the cause.


Smoking or chewing tobacco can dry out your mouth, compromises the immune system which can easily lead to lesions. Aside from potentially causing sores, the chemicals found in cigarettes have also been linked to causing oral cancer.

Bacterial infection as cause of mouth sores

Bacterial infections, such as gonorrhea or syphilis are also known to cause lesions. Bacterial infections in the mouth usually start in the teeth or gums and spread to the soft tissue of your mouth, causing sores.

Cancer and cancer treatment

Oral cancer can start out with a few mouth sores. This is why it’s important to have them examined by a dentist, if they don’t disappear in two weeks. They might be a sign of an underlying issue that you’re not aware of yet.

Furthermore, treatment for cancer, like chemotherapy, can also cause lesions in the mouth called oral mucositis.

What do to?

First, we recommend that you eliminate (or cut back at least) on the possible causes of these lesions. So, less spicy and acidic food/beverages, cut smoking or chewing tobacco and make sure that you have good oral hygiene in order to prevent infections.

If mouth sores to appear and don’t go away after two weeks, we highly recommend that you schedule an appointment with your dentist so he could perform a dental exam and identify the source of the problem.


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Dr. Nguyen
Dr. Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen is committed to providing high-quality dentistry using state-of-the-art equipment to help you achieve improved oral health and the beautiful smile you deserve.

Dr. Nguyen has served on the Virginia Board of Dentistry and has many achievements such as: Invisalign Premier and Teen Provider, Pre-Fellow with Academy of General Dentistry, Graduate of Aesthetic Continuum, Engel Institute for Dental Implant Training, WaveOne Endodontic Training, HD President’s Club.

Dr. Nguyen enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, staying active in the gym, and trying out new restaurants.  When he isn’t at work, you can find him playing basketball, tennis, football, or hiking.

“I want to make you feel right at home, exceed your expectations, and provide an amazing experience!”