What Causes Mouth Sores?

causes mouth sores

What is it that causes mouth sores? Well, there can be a variety of reasons, from herpes, or allergies, or even reactions to acidic foods. Here’s a breakdown of what this actually means, and what you can do about it.

What causes mouth sores can be widely varied, but the most common issue is probably herpes simplex Type 1, depending on where the sores are located. Mouth sores, also referred to mouth ulcers, or canker sores, are INSIDE the mouth, but cold sores / fever blisters are due to the herpes virus and are very contagious and occur OUTSIDE of the mouth. If you have the latter, then you may want to discuss it with your doctor.

Any mouth sore can hurt or be uncomfortable at the very least, but the rest of this article is actually concerning the kind of mouth sores that are inside the lips or gum line or surrounding area. Usually the inside of the mouth heals faster than other parts of the body (likely a survival mechanism since we need to eat to live) but why do people get canker sores, and what are the causes of mouth sores?

What causes mouth sores inside the mouth

Brush your teeth more
What causes mouth sores can include not brushing your teeth regularly or well enough. Also, something sharp or irritating such as a dental appliance (braces or dentures) can possibly trigger mouth sores.

Immunity issues
Another thing that causes mouth sores could be stress due to an impaired immune system, nutritional issues (being too low on vitamin B12, iron, or folic acid), or a gastrointestinal tract disease (Crohn’s or Celiac).

SLS allergy
A more rare issue that causes mouth sores can also be allergies. For instance, I started getting mouth sores over five years ago and thought I was not brushing well enough, but it seemed like the more I brushed the worse they got, so I looked it up. I found what I thought was the answer–I was probably allergic to SLS, which is sodium lauryl sulfate.

SLS is a foaming agent… an ingredient found in nearly all liquid soaps, shampoos, body wash, laundry detergent, toothpaste, or anything else that foams.  I stopped using toothpaste with SLS in it and the mouth sores went away. When I tested it and used the regular toothpaste again the mouth sores came back immediately, and went away again when I stopped using the SLS-toothpaste. I avoided SLS from that day forward.

How allergies to SLS (or anything else your body may not tolerate well) develop is that your body has a slight allergic response that builds over time until it breaks and then it seems like “suddenly” you are allergic, but really you had the intolerance all along. This can also happen with foods.

SLS is a common agent that is even found in some medicines used for gastrointestinal diseases such as GERD. I suffered from brain fog for years, and had seen multiple doctors that could never diagnose it, before I realized that the SLS I already knew I was allergic to was in my stomach medicine! I changed to a non-SLS medicine and the brain fog was gone within three days! Please be aware of any medicines you take and read the ingredients carefully. SLS can be what causes mouth sores.

Acidic foods

Acidic foods can also be what causes mouth sores. Avoid acidic vegetables (tomatoes, green olives, and peppers) and fruits (citrus, pineapples, strawberries, and figs), as well as coffee, chocolate, and certain nuts (almond skins, for instance, can be one of the causes of mouth sores to erupt).

So as you can see, what causes mouth sores can be varied, so take gentle care of yourself.


The author of this story is a freelance contributor to National Nutraceuticals’ online news portals, such as Amino Acid Information Center at http://www.aminoacidinformation.com and Vancouver Health News at http://www.VancouverHealthNews.ca.  National Nutraceuticals, Inc. also owns and operates a third health news portal focusing on medicinal mushrooms at http://medicinalmushroominfo.com, plus our newest portal at http://todayswordofwisdom.com.

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