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What Are Gum Blisters?

A woman with healthy gums.
Canker sores are sometimes called gum blisters.
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  • Written By: Brandon A. Quick
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 12 March 2014
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Gum blisters generally are more accurately classified as either canker sores or cold sores. Canker sores are not contagious, always appear on the inside of the mouth, and usually have gray, white, or yellow centers with a red border. Unlike the canker sore, the cold sore is contagious and caused by Herpes simplex virus 1 or 2. It usually appears on or around the lips, though it can sometimes appear inside the mouth.

A canker can occur on the tongue, gums, roof, or floor of the mouth. These sores can be very painful and can last up to 10 days. While there is no way to prevent canker sores, a variety of over-the-counter oral rinses, mouthwashes, and ointments are available to help sufferers deal with the related discomfort. Ointments can be applied with an applicator or cotton swab directly to the sore. It is advisable not to eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after the application to avoid rubbing off the ointment and preventing the treatment.

There are no known causes of canker sores. Factors such as genetics, types of food and drink consumed, trauma to the mouth, emotional stress, and poor nutrition are all believed to play a role in the appearance of canker sores. People experiencing repeated episodes of canker sores, or any blisters on the gum lasting longer than 10 days should see a dentist.

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Cold sores are caused by a virus and, thus, cannot be cured. People suffering from a cold sore may feel ill, but most do not have any additional symptoms. Once the virus enters the body, usually during childhood, it can be dormant for years. In some people, the dormant virus may be reactivated later in life, causing painful outbreaks. Triggers may include stress, exposure to heat or cold, and environmental factors. Cold sores commonly heal in about a week. Topical ointments designed to speed the healing or less the outbreak's severity are available, but they are rarely prescribed because they're not highly effective.

Most gum blisters are harmless, but severe or repetitive occurrences of canker sores and cold sores should be evaluated by a dentist or physician. In some cases, gum blisters can be precancerous, so they should be taken seriously. Most gum blisters should heal in less than two weeks, so any lasting longer than that should be checked by a medical professional. Otherwise, the best treatment for gum blisters remains prevention, including eating properly, avoiding acidic or spicy foods and beverages, and managing stress effectively.

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Discuss this Article

wavy58
Post 4

Canker sores are what I call mouth ulcers. They have a hole in the center, which is the most sensitive and painful part.

I generally don't get them on my gums, though. I get them on my inner cheek flaps, usually close to the gums but not on them.

They rub up against my teeth and gums and cause constant pain. I've heard that biting your cheek can actually cause a canker sore to form, and I believe it, because it seems that not long after I bite myself, I get one.

I rinse my mouth out with warm salt water, and that seems to make them fade a little sooner than they otherwise would. I also make a baking soda paste to rub on them, and though it stings at first, it starts to provide relief after a minute or so.

Oceana
Post 3

I've had fever blisters on my lips before, but I've never had any on my gums. That would be incredibly painful!

giddion
Post 2

@healthy4life – True, but when you have blisters in your mouth, you should avoid oranges and spicy foods as a form of sore gums treatment. Eating them only causes pain, so you probably wouldn't want to while you had blisters, anyway.

Like you, I don't think that avoiding all acidic foods is the answer. However, you shouldn't eat only foods like this that can irritate your gums. You should include other foods and beverages that don't cause irritation.

healthy4life
Post 1

It's awful that spicy foods and citrus fruit can cause sore gums. Spicy food is actually good for you, because it speeds up your metabolism and clears your sinuses. I know that oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and can boost your immune system.

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