Most Serious Causes of Oral Lesions

woman touching jaw in pain

Oral lesions, or ulcers in the oral cavity, are fairly common and can be caused by a wide range of factors and conditions, including localized trauma, such as exposure to an irritating agent, viral, fungal, and bacterial infections, nutritional deficiencies, and diseases, such as Lupus. When you seek care for oral lesions at Rutgers Health University Dental Associates, our dentists will thoroughly assess what may be causing your lesions to ensure that you receive proper dental and medical care.

While most oral lesions are triggered by localized trauma, such as biting the side of your mouth, consuming highly acidic food and beverages, or even experiencing a great deal of stress, any lesion that lasts more than three weeks could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Here are possible causes. For a proper diagnosis, schedule an appointment with Rutgers Health University Dental Associates.


Because people living with HIV/AIDS have weakened immune systems, they’re at higher risk for a wide range of oral health problems, including canker sores and other oral lesions.

Bechet’s Disease

Recurring, painful mouth sores that resemble canker sores are the most common sign that someone has Bechet’s disease, which is a rare disorder that involves blood vessel inflammation throughout the body.

Diabetes Mellitus

If you notice a cold sore or ulcer in your mouth that doesn’t seem to be going away, it may be a sign of diabetes. Diabetes can cause slower healing when blood sugar isn’t controlled properly.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

While benign themselves, canker sores can be the first sign of an inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They may also be a warning sign for people who already know they have IBD that a flare-up is imminent.

Celiac Disease

The oral lesions caused by celiac disease are very similar to canker sores. They may be triggered because the immune system damages soft tissue in patients with celiac disease or the person may be experiencing a mineral and vitamin deficiency because the stomach is unable to absorb nutrients properly.


Along with its well-known “butterfly rash” across the nose and cheeks, one of the most common signs of lupus is having painless ulcers on the roof of the mouth. Lupus can be a deadly and difficult autoimmune disease to live with, and can make someone suffering with it more susceptible to infections, cancers, and pregnancy complications.

Oral Cancer

In some cases, oral lesions that do not go away may be a sign of mouth cancer. They typically appear on the tongue, but they can also appear in other areas of the mouth.

Make an Appointment with Rutgers Health University Dental Associates

If you’ve had an oral lesion or canker sore for more than three weeks, contact Rutgers Health University Dental Associates to make an appointment with one of our dentists in New Brunswick or Newark. The fact that the lesion or ulcer is not healing within the normal timeframe may be a sign that something out of the ordinary is going on. Our knowledgeable dental health experts will look for factors that signal one of these more serious conditions may be involved so that you can seek expert medical care if needed.