Tips For Identifying The Most Common Types Of Oral Sores

21 May 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

A variety of different sores can occur in and around the mouth. While you should see a doctor or dentist, at a place like Crest Hill Family Dental,  regardless of the nature of the sore, knowing the type of sore you have can help determine how quickly you make that appointment. Some sores are minor and will go away on their own, while others can fester and cause dangerous dental infections.

Here are three of the most common types of oral sores and the potential treatments.

Cold Sore or Canker Sore

Cold sores and canker sores look similar. Both can present in and around the mouth with the appearance of a rounded open sore. If you've never had an oral sore before, it's important to make a dentist appointment to see which type of sore you have.

Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type-1. The virus is passed from contact with an infected person either through a kiss, sharing a cup, or some other type of skin contact. Those with HSV-1 don't always present with symptoms. But it's common for cold sores to appear sporadically. The sores typically differ from a canker sore in that its a cluster of small sores rather than one, but that's not always the case.

There's no cure for HSV-1, but there are some prescription medications that can stop a cold sore outbreak before it occurs.

It's unknown what causes a canker sore. The sores are more likely to appear in times of stress or hormonal changes. A canker sore will clear up on its own within a couple of weeks. Keep the area clean and use a topical pain reliever if needed. Avoid any acidic or spicy foods that might come into contact with the sore and cause irritation.


A dental abscess is an infection-caused buildup of pus. The pus can either build up inside the tooth or in the gums surrounding the tooth.

Oral bacteria can enter a tooth through small cavities or damaged gums. The bacteria can then create an infection in the tooth's pulp, which contains important blood cells, tissue, and nerves. Pulp resides in the root canal and that canal travels through the tooth and exits out at the roots that go into the jawbone.

When an abscess presents on the gums, the dentist will need to lance and drain the swelled area. Antibiotics will likely be prescribed regardless of the abscess location before treatment progresses.