How Long Do Mouth Sores Take to Go Away?

How Long Do Mouth Sores Take to Go Away?

Mouth sores can be bothersome, but they usually don’t last very long, with one caveat. Any sore lasting more than two weeks should be checked by your dentist.

In addition to cavities, mouth sores are among the most common oral ailments. While painful, mouth sores usually don’t indicate a serious medical condition and typically resolve within two weeks without treatment. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with the discomfort of mouth sores.

Mouth sores come in a variety of different types. Your dentist can diagnose which one you have and prescribe treatment to manage the symptoms. Let’s look at the most common types of mouth sores, their causes, and treatment options.

Common mouth sores

Mouth sores appear as blisters or lesions on the soft tissues of the floor or roof of the mouth, lips, gums, tongue, and cheeks. Causes range from medical conditions affecting the immune system, such as lupus, to viral or bacterial infections. Sores can also develop due to persistent irritation in the mouth from smoking or ill-fitting dentures. Iron deficiency and dry mouth are two probable causes, as well.

Pain, tingling sensations, and bleeding often accompany the sores. Difficulty swallowing and pain when eating spicy, acidic foods have also been associated with mouth sores. However, symptoms will vary depending on the type of mouth sore.

Canker sores. The most common type of mouth sore, canker sores are small ulcers with white, yellow, or gray centers lined in red. Typically a result of white cells attacking the lining of the mouth or irritation from certain foods, canker sores resolve on their own in 10 to 14 days.

Cold sores. The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores or fever blisters. It’s estimated that 50 to 80 percent of U.S. adults have the herpes simplex virus in their body. The virus can lie dormant for many years before an outbreak of fluid-filled blisters erupts on or around the lips. Herpes simplex is highly contagious, so people with cold sores should refrain from kissing or sharing food and utensils. The sores typically heal within a week.

Thrush. Also known as candidiasis, thrush is a fungal infection characterized by creamy white or red patches on the mouth’s surfaces. Those with weakened immune systems, dry mouth, or chronic conditions such as diabetes stand the highest risk of thrush. Not cleaning dentures can also cause the infection. Saliva substitutes and antifungal medications are possible treatments for thrush. 

Leukoplakia. Chronic irritation from smoking, broken teeth, cheek biting, or certain foods can cause an overgrowth of cells known as leukoplakia. Appearing as white or gray spots along the inside of the mouth, leukoplakia is not serious but can sometimes be a precursor to cancer. Your dentist can order a biopsy to rule out cancer.

Oral cancer. Red or white lesions, lumps, or ulcers anywhere on the cheek, tongue, gums, or roof of the mouth could indicate oral cancer. Smoking is the leading cause of oral cancer. At first, the spots may not cause pain and appear harmless. But if they don’t heal within two weeks, a dentist should check the lesions. Early diagnosis is critical for successful treatment.

Treating mouth sores

There is no general cure for a mouth sore. Treating mouth sores revolves around minimizing the symptoms and managing the root cause if it’s a medical condition. Topical numbing gels, steroids, and anti-inflammatories can relieve pain and inflammation. Antiviral medications may be prescribed for cold sores, although such drugs may not speed the healing process. 

You can also try home remedies. A mouth rinse of warm water and salt can alleviate discomfort. Applying a cold compress to a canker or cold sore can reduce pain, too. Mix baking soda and water for canker sores and dab it on the spot.

To avoid the temporary annoyance of mouth sores, take preventative measures, such as:

  • Limit spicy or acidic foods that tend to trigger canker sores.
  • Quit smoking and cut down on alcohol consumption.
  • Make sure your dentures are cleaned and fit correctly.
  • See your dentist regularly or when you notice any changes in your mouth, such as a slow-healing sore.

We treat every dental problem, including mouth sores

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Oklahoma City, OK, location today! Our highly trained dentists can check your mouth for sores and start treatment immediately. Don’t live near our Oklahoma City, OK, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Oklahoma City, OK
12448 St Andrews Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73120