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There are a variety of sores that can occur in or around the mouth. Most are benign, but some may be indicative of cancer.


Canker sores are small white ulcers that have a red border and always appear inside the mouth. They usually health in 1 or 2 weeks, but are not contagious. Sometimes they can be painful, so prescription drugs and over the counter topical creams are offered to help reduce the pain.


Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that form on the lips or around the mouth. Usually caused by the herpes simplex virus, they are both contagious and painful. Certain factors such as fever, sunburn, trauma, hormonal changes or emotional upset can trigger their appearance. Though there is no cure, prescription ointments can help to alleviate the pain. In order to help prevent the spread of infection to other people, the doctors at Metro ENT recommend washing your hands frequently and avoiding sharing personal products with other people. While there is currently no cure, cold sores can be treated with prescription ointments to help alleviate the pain. It is also important to wash your hands frequently and avoid sharing personal products to help prevent the spread of the infection to other people.


Candidiasis is caused by a fungal infection and is characterized by painful red and cream-colored patches form on moist areas of the mouth. Candidiasis can cause difficulties with swallowing and taste. Saliva substitutes and antifungal creams are used to treat candidiasis.


Cheek chewing or braces can sometime cause cause benign white patches to form inside the mouth. The treatment is to alleviate the irritation to allow for natural healing.


Leukoplakias consist of thick, white lesions that most commonly form beneath or around the tongue, cheeks or gums. Though they are are painless, but can become cancerous over time.


Oral cancers appear as red or white patches of mouth tissue or small ulcers that look like a canker sores, but are painless. Oral cancers usually form on the tongue or floor of the mouth, but can occur on any tissue in and around the mouth. The most common type of precancerous cells in the mouth are:

  • Leukoplakias: Leukoplakias consist of thick, white lesions that most commonly form beneath or around the tongue, cheeks or gums.
  • Erythroplakias: These lesions appear as a red, raised area in the mouth and have a higher incidence of becoming malignant than leukoplakias.

A biopsy is often needed to diagnose leukoplakias and erythroplakias.

If you have a mouth sore that won’t heal, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists.

At Metro ENT Care, we are experts at Nasal and Sinus surgery. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you breathe and feel better.