Lots of people aren’t quite sure about the difference between a cold sore and a mouth ulcer but the two are quite different. Cold sores develop on the lips, normally on the junction between the lips and the rest of the facial skin, whereas mouth ulcers develop inside the mouth. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, and the fluid from the blisters is extremely contagious. Mouth ulcers are not contagious and are not caused by a virus.
Common symptoms of a cold sore include:
- Developing a sore throat
- Noticing the area around your mouth and lips is beginning to tingle or burn
- The lymph glands in your neck may sometimes swell up
- You may develop a fever
Cold sores generally look like small red blisters, and will often burst after a few days. Once this has happened they’ll begin to crust over and will begin to heal. You need to avoid having close contact with anybody who has an active cold sore, and it’s best to avoid sharing personal items such as towels and eating utensils.
Common symptoms of mouth ulcers include:
- Feeling a tingling or burning sensation inside your mouth
- Noticing raised white or grey sores are developing in your mouth
- Having swollen lymph nodes
- Feeling feverish
- Feeling physically unwell or sluggish
As you can see the symptoms for both are quite similar, so it’s easy to understand the confusion. Most people will find their mouth ulcers heal up without any treatment within a week or two. However if you notice your mouth ulcers are growing or that they feel particularly painful, then it’s worth contacting Dr David Brown or another dentist here at Leeds City Dentalcare. We may be able to describe an antimicrobial mouth rinse or some prescription ointment that can help relieve the pain and irritation. It’s especially worthwhile doing this if you find it’s making it uncomfortable to eat and drink properly, or if you find you are developing a fever.
What Causes Mouth Ulcers?
It’s not really known exactly what causes mouth ulcers, but they can occur at times when you’re under more stress than normal, or if the tissues in your mouth have become injured in some way. Some people also find that certain foods may trigger an attack, especially spicy foods and acidic vegetables and fruits. If you find you do have recurring mouth ulcers then it’s well worth contacting our Leeds surgery for advice, as sometimes mouth ulcers can be caused by ill-fitting dental appliances, or having a sharp edge on a tooth that could be irritating the tissues in your mouth.
Our dentist in Leeds will be able to check that all dental appliances such as dentures or braces are fitting correctly. It’s worth having a check-up just to eliminate these possible causes, as otherwise your mouth ulcers might be due to some other underlying and possibly undiagnosed health problem. Sometimes mouth ulcers can be the result of having a less than effective immune system and they can also be down to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. If you are deficient in vitamin B-12, folic acid, iron or zinc then you may be more at risk. Mouth ulcers have also been linked to gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease.