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What are mouth lesions?

Abnormalities in the mouth could be caused by a number of different variables.

Here at Elite Dental in Staten Island we can help restore balance to your mouth with the detection and treatment of lesions and sores.

In this article we will discuss the different types of lesions and guide you through the best method to help resolve the condition of your mouth before the situation worsens.

Is there more than one type of mouth lesion?

Mouth lesions are loosely classified as abnormalities in the mouth. This article focuses on 4 different types:

  • Ulcers
  • White spots
  • Colored spots
  • Swelling

Mouth sores can be caused by a number of different things depending on the type of abnormality present.


Mouth ulcers appear as raw spots on the lining of your mouth that generally are a response to a sort of trigger or irritant. Ulcers can be whitish in the middle with a red edge or appear as a rash-like red (depending on what caused the reaction). They may be quite painful but usually resolve within 7-10 days.

There are a range of different triggers that may cause ulcers to appear. Most commonly, ulcers are due to:

  • Stress
  • A viral infection
  • Hot or spicy meals
  • Rubbing from an oral appliance
  • Erosive Lichen Planus
  • Oral cancer

Most ulcers are caused by stress or trauma but people who have a weak immune system may be more vulnerable to stress-induced sores and viral infections that appear as ulcers. In rare cases, ulcers are a reaction to oral cancer.

White spots

Generally white spots are a result of the tissue thickening in response to accidental chewing or some other form of irritation. Usually it will feel tough and in rare cases it may be an indication of an infection or disease.

What causes white spots?

White spots can be caused by a great number of different factors such as:

  • Braces
  • Tobacco
  • Dentures
  • Chewing food
  • Yeast infections
  • Cheek biting
  • Syphilis
  • Cancer

Basically any sort of oral appliance rubbing against the tissues in the mouth can cause white spots but the white spots that are more dangerous are caused by smoking, dry mouth or those who have a weakened immune system and are more susceptible to yeast infections.

Colored spots

Different colored spots in the mouth indicate different things. Colored spots can be red, brown or black depending on the cause and in some cases they may be an indication of cancers. This is more likely to occur in patients over the age of 60 and can generally be found underneath the tongue or on the roof of the mouth.

What causes colored spots?

Red spots are usually due to inflammation, infection, trauma or surfaced blood vessels.

Brown spots are mostly due to pigmentation along the gums or the lining of the mouth. They are more common for people with darker skin tones.

Black spots generally are caused by the placement or removal of amalgam fillings. If a small amount of the filling materials leak into the tissue, when the wound heals a “tattoo” will remain. These spots are not harmful to the body.


In many instances, swollen and bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease. However, there are a number of other things that could be causing your gum problems.

What causes swollen gums?

Swollen gums can be caused by:

  • Tooth or gum infections
  • Trauma from bite problems or ill-fitting dentures
  • Blocked salivary glands
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • The normal anatomy of your mouth (i.e., bony growths called “tori” that can develop over time near the base of your teeth)

People who are more susceptible to swelling may have a compromised immune system, bite problems, heavy restorations or gum disease amongst other things.

How do we detect mouth lesions?

Using state-of-the-art digital X-ray technology, our team at Elite Dental are able to pinpoint the exact location or oral abnormalities such as:

  • Cysts
  • Abscesses
  • Benign tumours

Other lesions like colored spots and ulcers can be seen with a trained eye.

How to treat them

Take note of how big it is, where it is and if it’s painful and think back to a time where you could have traumatised the area. If the white spot, ulcer, colored spot or swollen area is still around after a week, seek professional advice.

Your dentist will be able to tell you if it is a result of disease and can assist in the treatment process. If the lesion becomes painful, book a consultation with our team here at Elite Dental in Staten Island today.

Putting your oral health first

Here at Elite Dental, Dr Acker prides himself on ensuring his patients have all the information and treatment options necessary to assist you in a full recovery.

If you have been experiencing abnormalities in your mouth, book a consultation with our team here in Staten Island today.