Lesions in the mouth are common occurrences. They can arise in the form of bumps, ulcers or sores inside the mouth or on the tongue. Depending on the lesion, this can arise from infection, inflammation, or even cancer. Typically, viral infections and fungal infections are the most common causes of mouth or tongue lesions.
Cold sores are probably the most common, and are also known as fever blisters, even though you don’t actually get cold sores from fevers or colds–but can be triggered by them. Because cold sores are caused by a virus, they are highly contagious, and are spread by sharing eating utensils, kissing, or other close contact. To treat cold sores, there are over-the-counter creams or ointments, both to help with pain and speed up the healing process. If you constantly get these sores you might want to see your doctor for a stronger medication via prescription.
Canker sores are somewhat of a mystery; we don’t know what causes these small but painful blisters inside your mouth. Triggers might include infection, hormones, hypersensitivity, stress, or even vitamin deficiency. You may find canker sores on your tongue, inside your cheek, or on your gums. The good news is that they usually go away after a couple of weeks. If you have canker sores that stay around longer than that, your other options are numbing creams, medication and even dental lasers to remove them.
If you have a mouth sore that doesn’t ever seem to go away, you may have oral cancer. Accompanying this sore might be numbness in your face, mouth, or neck, and you might have a hard time chewing, speaking or swallowing. Oral cancer comes from long term tobacco use, heavy drinking, family history, overexposure to the sun, and even the human papillomavirus (HPV). The key is early treatment because these are curable cancers.
Black Hairy Tongue
Black hairy tongue looks scarier than it actually is. It is a painless, harmless, and temporary condition that arises when those small bumps on your tongue grow long and trap oral bacteria, making your tongue look black and hairy. Causes include use of antibiotics, poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, or drinking too much tea or coffee. You can relieve this condition by cleaning your tongue twice each day by gently brushing with a toothbrush or scraping with a tongue scraper. Medication can also help if cleaning doesn’t make a difference.
If you have any questions or concerns, or would like more information, please call our Mira Mesa Dental Care team at 858-457-7747 today!