Besides looking hideous, mouth sores around gums can inhibit smiling and eating. They can be caused by:
- Ill-fitting dentures
- Pointed edge of a broken tooth
- Chewing tobacco
- Burning your mouth from hot food or drinks
- Fungal or viral infection
Another type of mouth sores around gums is canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers. No one is sure of what causes canker sores. Your mouth may prickle or burn before the real sore becomes visible. Unlike cold sores, the good news is that canker sores are not infectious.
Canker sores are small and shallow, and they often make eating or talking uncomfortable. An underlying health condition can cause some cases of canker sores, such as a weakened immune system; dietary problems, such as Vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid or iron deficiency; and gastrointestinal tract ailments, such as Celiac and Crohn’s disease. Although canker and cold sores are often confused for each other, they are not the same.
Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus and are extremely infectious. Only when something aggravates the herpes virus it will become visible as a mouth sore: it can exist in in your body for years.
The herpes virus can be transmitted by direct contact. Herpes doesn’t cause any symptoms in many cases, so it’s possible for a person to carry it and unwittingly pass it on to somebody else.
With herpes simplex, blisters form on the lips and on the inside of the mouth, and soon develop into painful ulcers. The gums become red and swollen, and the tongue may develop a white coating.
If you’re about to start cancer therapy, be aware that certain treatments can cause mouth sores. Cancer-related mouth sores are red ulcers that form on the lining of the inside of your mouth, or on your lips.
Chemotherapy and head or neck radiation can both cause mouth sores during cancer treatment. Bone marrow or stem cell transplants can also lead to mouth sores if you develop graft-versus-host disease. You can also have spots in your mouth when you have an infection such as chicken pox or measles.
Anyone who has had mouth sores around gums knows they can be excruciating and can interfere with eating. If your dentist cannot easily name the cause of the sore, a biopsy may be recommended so you can get a correct diagnosis.
Remember that your dentist should look at any mouth sore that persists for a week or more. Any persistent sore should be re-evaluated frequently as recommended by your dentist, even after a diagnosis is made.