Finding a bump or sore anywhere on your body is alarming. The same is true when discovering a sore in your mouth. However, the good news is that a sore on your gums is not often a medical emergency that must be handled immediately. But it is wise to seek the care and opinion of an experienced dentist if the sore is extremely painful and does not heal or disappear on its own.

There are a few conditions that can cause gum sores above your teeth. We have outlined a few causes and symptoms below so that you can potentially narrow down what you may be experiencing and better know how to treat your specific condition and when you should seek dental treatment.

Canker Sores

Canker sores are the most common form of mouth sore. They are caused by a variety of factors, including injury, harsh brushing, and flossing, poor diet, food sensitivities, allergies, or stress.

Though they look similar to a cold sore, canker sores are found inside the mouth on the gums, under the tongue, or in the cheek, as opposed to the outside of the mouth. They are not caused by a virus and are not contagious.

Most canker sores will heal on their own within two weeks and are not a significant cause for concern. If the condition keeps recurring or does not fully heal within a few weeks, you should address the subject with your dentist.


Gingivitis is a common form of gum disease that causes inflamed, bleeding, and swollen gums. It often occurs due to insufficient oral care. The symptoms of gingivitis often go unnoticed in the early stages, but it can look like receding or inflamed gums, bleeding when brushing or flossing, and can cause bad breath.

Gingivitis itself is not a severe medical condition, but if left untreated, it can develop into a more serious oral disease. Typically, a consistent brushing and flossing routine and regular visits to a dentist for a deep clean will rid you of the condition.

Periodontal Disease

When gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease. This disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on teeth and gums that causes the gums to swell and recede and can cause tooth loss. Periodontal disease often causes dental abscesses, oral bleeding, bad breath, and tooth shifting.

Treatment requires regular dental deep cleans and sometimes more severe treatments, such as scaling, root planting, or a root canal. If you feel pain in your gums, you should seek dental care to rule out periodontal disease.

Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is a fungal infection on the inside of the mouth. It appears most commonly in babies, the elderly, and those who spend extended stays in the hospital. The commonalities between these groups are those who cannot complete thorough oral care routines and may have suppressed immune systems.

This fungus looks like white spots on the gums or tongue. It is a condition that a medical professional can treat with antifungal medication in the form of a pill, lozenge, or mouth rinse. As with these other causes of gum sores, we recommend speaking with a family dentist that can take a look inside your mouth.

Oral Cancer

Most of the conditions mentioned above are not a great cause for emergency care and concern and simply require a visit to your dentist, good oral hygiene, and in some cases, medication. But of course, a gum sore above your teeth that is painful, consistent, and that will not go away could be an indicator of a more severe condition.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of oral cancer look similar to many of those mentioned above, such as a sore or bump, bleeding and swollen gums, and loose teeth. If your dentist suspects that a sore on your gums could be cancerous, they will take a small tissue sample of your gums for testing.

Your dentist will then refer you to a specialist or develop a treatment plan for you.

Need to See a Dentist About a Gum Sore?

At East Valley Dental Professionals, our dentists have decades of experience caring for patients with gum sores. We hope this list of conditions above has put your mind at ease, knowing that most oral sores can be treated with a dental visit and a thorough oral care routine.

If you are suffering from a gum sore and would like to speak with a professional, our dentists are available to diagnose your condition. We would also love to walk you through some preventative dentistry measures as a part of your treatment plan.

Do not live in worry or fear. Schedule an appointment today by calling (480).838.3033 to begin your journey towards oral wellness.