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Canker and Cold Sores

man covering mouth

Stomatitis, a general term for an inflamed and sore mouth, can disrupt a person’s ability to eat, talk, and sleep. Stomatitis can occur anywhere in the mouth, including the inside of the cheeks, gums, tongue, lips, and palate.

Types of Stomatitis

  • Canker sore: A canker sore, also known as an aphthous ulcer, is a single pale or yellow ulcer with a red outer ring or a cluster of such ulcers in the mouth, usually on the cheeks, tongue, or inside the lip

  • Cold sores: Also called fever blisters, cold sores are fluid-filled sores that occur on or around the lips. They rarely form on the gums or the roof of the mouth. Cold sores later crust over with a scab and are usually associated with tingling, tenderness, or burning before the actual sores appear

  • Mouth irritation: The irritation can be caused by:

~ Biting your cheek, tongue, or lip

~ Wearing braces or another type of dental apparatus, or having a sharp, broken tooth

~ Chewing tobacco

~ Burning one’s mouth from hot food or drinks

~ Having gum disease (gingivitis) or other type of mouth infection

~ Having hypersensitivity to certain things, such as foods or medicines

~ Having certain autoimmune diseases affecting the mucosal lining of the mouth, such as lupus, Crohn’s disease, or Behcet’s disease

~ Taking certain drugs such as chemotherapy, antibiotics, medications used for rheumatoid arthritis, or epilepsy medications

~ Receiving radiation as part of cancer treatment

Symptoms of Stomatitis: Canker Sores and Cold Sores

Canker sores:

  • Can be painful

  • Usually last 5 to 10 days

  • Tend to come back

  • Are generally not associated with fever

Cold sores:

  • Are usually painful

  • Are usually gone in 7 to 10 days

  • Are sometimes associated with cold or flu-like symptoms

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