U.S. doctors online nowAsk doctors free
A 40-year-old member asked:

how do i know if i have gum disease or some viral sores or canker sore flare-up?

7 doctor answers13 doctors weighed in
Dr. Charles Cattano
Gastroenterology 39 years experience
Need exam please: Get examined please. Canker sores are common aphthous ulcers of mouth that occur situationally, often in response to stressors, are bacterial or viral, & can be treated topically with many otc products that reduce local discomfort & potentially speed healing. However, oral/dental problems & a number of systemic diseases cause canker sore-like lesions--crohn's, behcet's, std (sexually transmitted).
Dr. Gary Lederman
Dentistry 40 years experience
I would add that painless laser treatments can relieve the pain from oral ulcers immediately , another reason to see a dentist! I agree that the most important thing to do is get a proper diagnosis.
Jul 22, 2012
Dr. Scott Harwood
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 45 years experience
Time: The best way is to see your dentist and have it evaluated properly. In general, however, a cold sore will resolve in 7-10 days whereas gum disease is not going to resolve on its own.
Dr. Ragan Faler
Dentistry 24 years experience
Pain and location : Generally gum disease is not painful. Canker sores are ulcers that most commonly appear on the loose tissues on the inside of the lips, tongue, and back of the throat. Cold sores are viral "ulcer-like" blistering lesions that are painful, and will occur on the outside of the lip, inside of nose, roof of mouth and sometimes the hard gum (keratinized gingiva) on the inside of the mouth.
Dr. Nancy Appelblatt
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 44 years experience
Could be either, but: Gum disease is usually around your teeth, with retraction pockets, and normally your dentist or hygenist would mention it. Also is not normally as painful. Canker sore lesions are ulcers , and can be biopsied, or scraped with a special test done, but hurt like heck.See above for why and quick tx.
Dr. Jeffrey Bassman
Dentistry 45 years experience
See a dentist: You need to have an examination to check you gums, bone support around the teeth and the teeth. If there is a question, sometimes a biopsy or culture will be run.
Dr. Gary Sandler
Dentistry 54 years experience
See DDS\DMD: They all have different clinical signs, symptoms and appearances. It's easy for your dentist to determine what you have, so please schedule a visit to find out what you have and what needs to be done if anything. Self diagnosis, even with extensive internet research and guidance is never a good idea.
Dr. Duane Keller
Dentistry 45 years experience
?Bleeding gums?: If your gums bleed when you brush or floss you probably have gum disease. Check with you dentist and see what they recommend. We use the perio protect method and it gets wonderful results.

90,000 U.S. doctors in 147 specialties are here to answer your questions or offer you advice, prescriptions, and more. Get help now:

Ask doctors free
Personalized answers
Free
Talk to a doctor
24/7 visits
$15 per month

90,000 U.S. doctors in 147 specialties are here to answer your questions or offer you advice, prescriptions, and more. Get help now:

Ask doctors free
Personalized answers
Free
Talk to a doctor
24/7 visits
$15 per month
Last updated Apr 15, 2019
Connect with a U.S. board-certified doctor by text or video anytime, anywhere.
24/7 visits
$15 per month

Disclaimer:

Content on HealthTap (including answers) should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and interactions on HealthTap do not create a doctor-patient relationship. Never disregard or delay professional medical advice in person because of anything on HealthTap. Call your doctor or 911 if you think you may have a medical emergency.