Advertisement

Mouth Problems

Mouth problems, sufch as sores, are very common. Follow this chart for more information about mouth problems in adults.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Is the person an infant (<1 year) or a child?

  • Do you have pain in your mouth? Is there a specific area that is painful or can you see any changes in the area where you have pain?

  • Do you have painless white or gray sores that may have a hard, raised coating on the tongue or the inside of the cheeks?

  • Do you have a painless lesion, growth, or lump on the lip or face?

  • Do you have a painless, fluid-filled sac that may be bluish in color on the inner lips, gums, palate, or under the tongue?

  • Do you have pain or swelling under your tongue or in your cheek, especially while eating or drinking?

  • Do you have small open and painful sores that are white or yellowish with a red border on the inner lips or cheek, gums, or tongue?

  • Do you have a sore that is red and crusted on your lip or on the outer edge of your lips?

  • Do you have a red, swollen tongue or lips?

  • Do you wear dentures that seem to rub your gums or irritate your mouth?

  • Do you have red and swollen gums that may bleed when you brush or floss?

  • Do you have small, painful bumps on your tongue?

  • Do you have creamy white patches on the tongue, inner cheek, or gums that are painful when scraped?

  • Do you have raised patches of white lines or bumps that may also include red open sores on the inside of your cheeks or sides of the tongue?

  • Do you have a burning sensation in your mouth that may involve several areas?

  • Do you have cracking or open sores in the corners of your mouth?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • See Mouth Problems in Infants and Children
  • Diagnosis

    Try to confirm whether the pain is related to the teeth, gums, tongue, lips, etc. Follow the symptom checker below.


    Self Care

  • Diagnosis

    This lesion may be a precancerous LEUKOPLAKIA, more common in those who use chewing tobacco or smoke cigarettes.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. Stop smoking or using other tobacco products to help prevent oral cancers. See your dentist if sharp or rough teeth or dental work are causing irritation.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA or another form of SKIN CANCER.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. When there is any change in the color, size, texture, or appearance of the skin lesion, or if there is pain or bleeding from a lesion, lump, or mole, see your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be a MUCOCELE, a harmless cyst that may be caused by sucking mouth tissue between your teeth.


    Self Care

    These cysts usually go away on their own. Do not attempt to lance or open the cysts.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be caused by a blockage in a salivary duct, possibly caused by a SALIVARY DUCT STONE.


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    These may be APHTHOUS ULCERS or CANKER SORES.


    Self Care

    Canker sores usually heal on their own. To relieve discomfort, rinse with salt water or diluted hydrogen peroxide, or apply an over-the-counter oral gel. You may also use an analgesic, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain. Your doctor can also prescribe a steroid dental paste to reduce discomfort. See your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve or if you are unable to eat due to the discomfort from the sore.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be a COLD SORE, caused by a type of HERPES VIRUS.


    Self Care

    Cold sores usually go away on their own. Analgesics, such as acetaminophen, and cold sore ointments, can help relieve the discomfort. Cold sores can be treated with antiviral medicines when they appear. If you get cold sores frequently (more than 4 times per year), talk with your doctor about starting a daily medication to prevent them from developing.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be an ALLERGIC REACTION to a medicine or another ALLERGEN.


    Self Care

    URGENT
    See your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room right away if you have any trouble breathing. An over-the-counter antihistamine may help relieve other allergy symptoms.


  • Diagnosis

    MISFITTING DENTURES can cause mouth pain.


    Self Care

    See your dentist.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have GUM DISEASE, such as GINGIVITIS or PERIODONTITIS, or a CAVITY, usually caused by poor ORAL HYGIENE.


    Self Care

    See your dentist. Good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups, and eating a healthy diet can help prevent gum diseases.


  • Diagnosis

    These bumps are probably PAPILLAE (where the taste buds are) that have become inflamed due to an injury from a burn caused by hot food or drink or a self-inflicted bite.


    Self Care

    The inflammation and bump will usually go away on its own. Avoid hot, spicy, and acidic foods. Use an analgesic, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain.


  • Diagnosis

    This may be CANDIDIASIS (ORAL THRUSH) caused by a fungal infection.


    Self Care

    This condition usually goes away on its own. Eat yogurt with live cultures to restore the natural balance of bacteria in your body. Gargle with salt water or use analgesics, such as acetaminophen, to relieve discomfort. If your symptoms get worse or don’t improve, see your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medicine. This type of infection can also occur in people that are immunocompromised (weakened immune system). Talk with your doctor if you are getting frequent infections.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have ORAL LICHEN PLANUS, an inflammatory condition that may have many causes.


    Self Care

    This condition may go away without treatment. Practice good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing, don’t eat foods that irritate your mouth, limit alcohol consumption, and stop smoking or using chewing tobacco. See your doctor if your symptoms get worse or don’t improve.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have BURNING MOUTH SYNDROME (BMS).


    Self Care

    See your doctor. Treatment often depends on underlying causes. Stop smoking or using other tobacco products and reduce alcohol consumption. Their use may be the cause of or make the problem worse.


  • Diagnosis

    This is likely STOMATITIS. These tender sores may result from a vitamin deficiency or simply be the result of dry, chapped lips.


    Self Care

    Use a soothing ointment on these cracked areas. Take riboflavin and/or a multivitamin if you think your diet isn’t adequate. See your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.


  • Self Care

    See your doctor if you have a mouth or lip sore that doesn’t heal. This may be a sign of oral cancer. For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away.


Advertisement

Family Doctor Logo American Academy of Family Physicians Logo