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a woman holds the side of her mouth with a painful expression on her face

Mouth sores or lesions that take a long time to heal are more concerning than canker sores, says functional dentist Mary Ellen Chalmers, DMD. Any that linger for more than a few weeks may need to be biopsied to rule out oropharyngeal cancer.

The cause, though, is usually less worrying and easier to address: Metals in fillings and bridges can contribute to mouth sores, particularly when two different metals interact, as with gold bridges and mercury fillings.

“When there are dissimilar metals with different electric potentials, that can set up reactivity and release metal ions that the body can absorb,” explains Chalmers. In some cases, removing just one of the metals can be enough to temper mouth sores and irritation.

Mark Burhenne, DDS, family and sleep-medicine dentist, adds that alcohol-based mouthwash breaks down cell walls of the mouth’s mucosal lining, predisposing you to viral outbreaks, such as cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). “Most of us have these viruses in our mouths, but they don’t necessarily lead to outbreaks unless we’re disinfecting the mouth with caustic ingredients that cause dysbiosis.”

This was excerpted from “What Your Mouth Is Trying to Tell You” which was published in Experience Life magazine.

Mo Perry

Mo Perry is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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