What are Oral Lesions?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2019
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Also known as tongue lesions and lesions of the mouth, oral lesions are open sores or ulcers found in the oral cavity. The lesions may also include lumps or bumps along the edges. Mouth lesions can be due to several different factors, including inflammation, some type of infection, or even the development of oral cancer.

There are several common symptoms associated with most types of oral lesions. Usually, the individual will experience tenderness somewhere in the mouth, such as along the gums or the roof of the mouth. There is also a good chance that the tongue will feel somewhat sore or tender as well. As the condition begins to worsen, some swelling of the tongue or along the gums may also take place. Both of these signs are usually precursors to the actual appearance of the lesions themselves.

Other symptoms that indicate the impending development of oral lesions include a coating that develops and seems to cling to the interior area of the oral cavity. Generally, the coating has a somewhat bitter taste that tends to inhibit the ability to taste food or beverages. When the oral lesions are due to some type of infection, either viral or fungal in nature, the coating is likely to have a slightly milky appearance.


As the condition continues to progress, the lymph glands will begin to swell. At first, the swelling is barely noticeable. However, if left untreated, the swelling will become quite pronounced, leading to pain in the throat that is very similar to that of a sore throat.

Treating oral lesions effectively requires determining the root cause for the problem. When some type of infection is the reason for the lesions, a physician is likely to administer antibiotics or antifungal medication that will help to minimize the pain as well as reducing the inflammation and allow the lesions to begin healing. In relatively minor situations, the doctor may recommend the use of an antiseptic mouthwash several times a day, or even an old-fashioned wash with warm water and salt. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications may also be recommended to help with the soreness and other pain during the healing process.

Home remedies or even antibiotics may not be employed is when the lesions are determined to be associated with some type of oral carcinoma. When this is the case, surgery is often the best option. This makes it possible to remove any oral neoplasm that appears to be cancerous, and make it possible to facilitate treatments aimed at killing any remaining cancer cells that may be present.


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