Mouth Problems

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

Our trusted Symptom Checker is written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals. Find a possible diagnosis by choosing a symptom and answering a few simple questions.

Remember, be sure to consult with you doctor if you feel you have a serious medical problem.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Is the person an infant or child?

  • Do you have pain in your mouth?

  • 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

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


    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 SKIN CANCER.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. When there is any change in the color, size, texture or appearance of the skin, or if there is pain, itching 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 the teeth.


    Self Care

    These cysts usually go away on their own. To avoid infection, only a doctor should open these cysts.


  • Diagnosis

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


    Self Care

    See your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    These may be CANKER SORES. They may be caused by viral infections.


    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. See your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.


  • 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.


  • 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 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

    Do you have small, painful bumps on your tongue?


    Self Care

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


  • Diagnosis

    This may be CANDIDIASIS (ORAL THRUSH) caused by a fungus growing out of control.


    Self Care

    This condition usually goes away on its own. Eat unsweetened 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. He or she may prescribe an antifungal medicine.


  • 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. 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. Their use may be the cause or may make the problem worse.


  • Diagnosis

    These tender sores may result from a vitamin deficiency or from 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.


  • Diagnosis


    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.