Mouth sores are not only annoying, but they can also be unsightly and embarrassing. Some show up on the inside of the mouth – on the gums, tongue, cheeks, lips, or roof of the mouth. Other mouth sores, such as cold sores, show up outside the mouth, on or around the lips, on the chin, or under the nose. 

At Dr. James Ross, Family, Cosmetic & Laser Dentistry, we can help with a lot more than just issues with your teeth. If you are concerned about a lingering mouth sore or a troublesome spot that keeps reappearing, let us help you with one of our general dentistry solutions. Call our Novi, MI dental practice at 248-697-2487 to see what we can do for you. Then, in the meantime, learn more about what could be going on with that sore in or around your mouth.

Causes of Mouth Sores

Mouth sores can be caused by any number of things, including bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. They could also be a sign of oral cancer or any of the following:

  • Irritation – Poor-fitting dentures can rub and cause sores
  • Loose orthodontic wires, brackets, or the sharp edges of a broken tooth or filling
  • Extreme sensitivity to certain ingredients, particularly those in toothpastes or mouth rinses
  • Reactions to medication, cancer treatments, or therapy
  • Specific skin, oral, or systemic diseases

Types of Mouth Sores

There are many types of mouth sores. The most common are canker sores, cold sores, and leukoplakia. 

Canker Sores

Canker sores appear inside the mouth and are usually small ulcers with a white, gray, or yellow center and a flat, red border. Canker sores can be large with a raised border, but this happens far less often. 

Typically, a canker sore starts as a red spot or bump and develops into a painful sore. However, they are not contagious or precancerous. Fortunately, most canker sores heal on their own in 7 to 10 days. 

Cold Sores

Cold sores are groups of painful, fluid-filled blisters. Typically, they show up on the lips or on the skin around the lips. Cold sores are caused by herpes virus Type 1 or Type 2 and are contagious. Once a person gets infected, the virus stays in their body where it typically becomes activated periodically, causing the sore to show up. 


Leukoplakia is a white or gray patch that can appear on the inside of the mouth. It’s caused by excess cell growth of the lining of the mouth and is often triggered by chronic irritation. Leukoplakia typically isn’t painful and is usually harmless, but there is potential for it to become cancerous, so you should get it looked at. 

It is normal to experience the occasional discolored, painless spot in your mouth. In most cases, these spots are harmless and will either disappear or remain unchanged. However, some sores or spots can be serious and need to be looked at by an oral health professional. That’s why it’s important to keep up with regular checkups with your dentist. 

If you are concerned about a spot or sore in your mouth, or if you are due for a checkup and cleaning, call Dr. James Ross, Family, Cosmetic & Laser Dentistry, at 248-697-2487 to schedule an appointment.