The mouth is essential to several important functions — communication, eating and breathing, for example. Like with other body parts and organs, however, things can go wrong inside the mouth. Sores or inflammation, whether on your tongue, gums, cheeks or inner lip, are called stomatitis, explains the Merck Manual. Stomatitis is a common problem many people deal with at some point, and it can take different forms. It is highly recommended that you visit your doctor or dentist if you think you may be suffering from this condition. Here's what you need to know about stomatitis, its treatment, and how to relieve the pain.
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 shows no symptoms. However, the symptoms to watch out for include drooling, fever, difficulty swallowing, and malaise, according to the National Institutes of Health. The gums may also bleed and become red, swollen and tender.
If you're diagnosed with herpes stomatitis, that means you have it for life. The body has no way of expelling the virus that causes the sores. However, given that the outbreaks aren't severe, stomatitis treatment involves over-the-counter medication for pain relief and fever reduction. Children should also consume plenty of liquids during an outbreak. An outbreak usually subsides within two weeks or sooner. For frequent outbreaks, your doctor can prescribe antiviral medications.
Canker sores, officially called aphthous stomatitis, are round and painful sores in the mouth. They may occur singly or in clusters of as many as 10. Canker sores are quite common.
They may run in families, but are not contagious. Scientists don't fully understand what causes canker sores, but it is commonly believed 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. The sores take about two to three days to form, and they can be small or large. 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.
Canker sores can't be treated or prevented. 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 the symptoms. Larger sores may require steroid medications.
This third type of stomatitis, also known as thrush, can affect people who wear dentures, have diabetes, take oral steroids or have difficulties keeping their mouth clean, notes the Oral Health Foundation. Red areas under the dentures or red sores at the lip corners are signs to watch out for.
The condition is due to an overgrowth of candida, a fungus present in all mouths. To treat thrush, start off by practising good oral hygiene to clean and alleviate discomfort and promote healing. If you wear dentures, be sure to clean them after meals. Soak them at night when you're not wearing them. Smoking also encourages yeast growth in the mouth, so kick the habit for better oral health.
You may require medication if these oral hygiene habits aren't enough to treat your thrush. If that is the case, talk to your doctor or dentist.
If you have a cold sore, a canker sore or thrush, finding relief from the discomfort is likely a top priority. Speak to your dentist about over-the-counter and home treatment options to help bring the relief you need.