Understanding Stomatitis

toothache dentistFew oral health problems offer the potential for as much pain and embarrassment as stomatitis. Portland dentist Dr. Joy Arend and her team at East Portland Dentistry help patients of all ages heal from stomatitis.

The clinical term for an inflamed and sore mouth, stomatitis can develop in such areas as the palate, lips, tongue, gums, and the inside of the cheeks. Stomatitis can negatively impact a person’s ability to sleep, talk, and eat. When outwardly visible, stomatitis can cause individuals suffering from the condition to feel embarrassed, leading them to withdraw from social interactions with others.

Types of Stomatitis

The different types of stomatitis include:

Canker Sores

Also referred to as an aphthous ulcer, a canker sore appears as a yellow or whitish ulcer surrounded by a red ring. Canker sores can appear individually or in clusters on the inside of the lips, cheeks, or on the tongue. Cankers sores are often very painful, and last anywhere between five to 10 days. Individuals prone to developing canker sores will generally have the sores return periodically.

Cold Sores

Cold sores, also referred to fever blisters, are sores filled with fluid that develop around or on the lips. Colds sores can also develop on the roof of the mouth or gums, but do so infrequently. Before a cold sore actually forms, you may experience a burning, tingling, or tender sensation around the lips. Once a cold sore has finished weeping, a scab will crust over the sore as it begins to heal. Cold sores are also very painful, and generally last between seven and 10 days. Cold sores can also develop along with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Mouth irritation

Mouth irritation can be caused by a variety of sources, including:

  • Biting your lip, tongue, or cheek
  • Wearing braces with lose or poorly trimmed wires
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Burning the mouth with hot foods and drinks
  • Gum disease or other types of oral infections
  • Hypersensitivity to specific foods and medicines
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Behcet’s or Crohn’s disease that affect the mucosal lining of the mouth
  • Taking certain drugs such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, and medications used to treat epilepsy and rheumatoid arthritis.

Causes of Stomatitis

Canker Sores

Researchers still don’t know exactly what causes canker sores to form, but a variety of things can contribute to their development, such as certain medications, poor nutrition, stress, viruses and bacteria, lack of sleep, sudden weight loss, and foods like nuts, cheese, chocolate, coffee, citrus fruits, and potatoes.

The development of canker sores may also relate to a temporary weakening of the immune system caused by a cold or flu, hormonal changes, or low levels of vitamin B12. Even something as innocuous as biting the inside of your cheek can trigger a canker sore to form.

While canker sores may result from a genetic predisposition and are considered an autoimmune disease, they are not contagious.

Approximately 20 percent of people in the U.S. will suffer from a canker sore at some point in their lifetime; women more frequently than men.

Cold Sores

While the cause of canker sores remains a mystery, the cause of cold sores is directly linked to the virus herpes simplex type 1. Further differentiating themselves from canker sores, cold sores are also infectious from the time the blister ruptures to the time it completely heals. Once a person has been infected by herpes simplex, it continues to stay in the body and resurfaces due to such conditions as stress, fever, hormonal changes, trauma, and even sunlight exposure.

When sores come back, they often appear in the same location as before. In addition to spreading to others, the virus can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the genital or eyes. Currently, no cure exists for herpes simplex.

For help dealing with pain or soreness of the mouth, call dentist in Portland Dr. Joy Arend at 503-253-0226 for your personal appointment.

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