White sores on the gums may be canker sores, which are caused by trauma to the affected area, fatigue, stress, spicy foods, food allergies or nutritional deficiencies, explains Delta Dental. Another potential cause is oral cancer, which is sometimes linked to smoking, the human papillomavirus or heavy drinking, notes WebMD.
Another name for canker sores is aphthous ulcers, notes Delta Dental. These small mouth sores are either white or yellow in coloration and may have a red outline. In addition to on the gums, canker sores can occur on the roof of the mouth, on or below the tongue, on the lips, and inside the cheeks. Trauma from dental appliances irritating the inside of the mouth, accidentally hitting the gum with a toothbrush, or biting the inside of the mouth can produce a canker sore. Chemotherapy and menstrual periods are also linked to the development of canker sores.
A canker sore usually heals on its own within about seven to 10 days, according to Delta Dental. In the meantime, one can take steps to minimize the pain associated with the sore, such as avoiding spicy, sharp or acidic foods. Over-the-counter pain relievers are helpful for pain management while the sore heals.
If a sore in the mouth never seems to go away, it may be oral cancer, explains WebMD. Oral cancer may make it difficult to chew, speak or swallow.