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Stomatitis Treatment For 3 Types Of Mouth Sores

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

A healthy mouth is essential to so much of our overall bodily health. It plays a key role in numerous important functions, including breathing, speaking, and digesting food. And just like with other body parts and organs, things can go wrong inside the mouth. 

One such condition is stomatitis: a general term for an inflamed and sore mouth that can include both cold sores and canker sores. According to the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, anywhere from 5% to 25% of the United States population is affected by stomatitis in some way. 

Stomatitis can occur anywhere in the mouth, including the inside of the cheeks, gums, tongue, lips, and palate. So it's not surprising it can disrupt a person's ability to eat, talk, and sleep.  

Complicating things, the Journal of Oral Pathology identifies different types of stomatitis.  

What follows is essential and helpful information about stomatitis, its treatment, and finding relief from the pain! 

Type 1 – Herpes Cold Sores and Treatment 

Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) causes herpes stomatitis, commonly known as cold sores. This virus is extremely contagious through saliva and is typically contracted between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. In many cases, a person with HSV-1 doesn't show any symptoms. When symptoms are present, however, they include drooling, fever, difficulty swallowing, and malaise says the Journal of International Oral Health. Additionally, the gums may bleed and become red, swollen, and tender. 

If you're diagnosed with herpes stomatitis, that means you have it for life. Your body has no way of getting rid of the virus. However, the outbreaks aren't severe, so this stomatitis can be managed with over-the-counter medications for pain relief and fever reduction. Children should also consume plenty of liquids during an outbreak. Outbreaks usually last two weeks or less. For frequent outbreaks, your doctor can prescribe antiviral medications. 

Type 2 – Aphthous Stomatitis and Treatment  

Canker sores, known medically as aphthous stomatitis, are round and painful sores in the mouth. They can develop singly or in groups of up to 10. Canker sores are among the most common medical conditions that affect the mucous membranes lining the mouth. Some experts estimate that about one out of every 10 people are affected. Most people get them for the first time when they're a teenager or young adult. Canker sores are more common in women than in men. 

Canker sores may run in families, but they aren't contagious. Scientists don't fully understand what causes them, but a common belief is that they result from a deficiency in the body's immune system. Common triggers of the sores include acidic foods, injury to the mouth, emotional stress, and changes in hormone levels related to menstruation. 

Symptoms include a tingling or burning sensation on the tongue, inner lip, or inner cheek. Canker sores can be small or large and take about two to three days to form. Smaller sores go away on their own in a couple of weeks without any scarring. Large sores tend to be painful and can leave scars. 

You can't prevent canker sores, and you can't treat them. However, you can treat the symptoms, such as the stinging pain. Eating bland foods, rinsing with warm water, and applying pain-relieving gels may ease symptoms. Larger sores can require steroid medications. 

Type 3 – Denture Stomatitis and Treatment 

Denture stomatitis, also known as thrush, can affect people who wear dentures, have diabetes, take oral steroids, or have difficulty keeping their mouths clean, notes the Oral Health Foundation. Signs to watch for include red areas under the dentures or red sores at the lip corners. 

According to the Journal of Prosthodontics, studies report the prevalence of denture stomatitis among denture wearers as ranging from 15% to over 70%. The condition is due to an overgrowth of candida, a fungus present in all mouths. Contributing factors include poor denture hygiene, continual and nighttime wearing of removable dentures, accumulation of denture plaque, and bacterial and yeast contamination of denture surfaces. 

In addition, poor-fitting dentures can increase mucosal trauma. All of these factors appear to increase the ability of candidiasis, a pathogenic yeast that originates in your gut, to grow on your gums and dentures. 

To treat candidiasis or thrush, start by practicing good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and rinsing with a mouthwash. If you wear dentures, be sure to clean them after meals. Soak them at night when they're not in your mouth. Smoking also encourages yeast growth in the mouth, so kick the habit for better oral health as well as overall health. 

If you have a cold sore, a canker sore, or thrush, finding relief from the discomfort is a top priority. Home treatment options, such as fever reducers, pain relievers, and oral gels and rinses, may help bring you the relief you need. 

And in cases where improved oral hygiene habits aren't effective at resolving thrush, you might require treatment such as antifungal medications. In these cases, talk to your doctor or dentist. 

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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