Stomatitis is an inflammation of mucous lining of any structures of mouth, involving the cheeks, gums, lips, tongue, throat and palate (roof of the mouth). It is a non-specific term for inflamed and sore mouth, which disrupts the person’s ability to talk, eat and sleep. It is also known as oral stomatitis or migratory stomatitis.
Types of Stomatitis
Stomatitis includes the following types:
Canker sores – Also called an aphthous ulcer, it is a single pale ulcer with red outer ring or a cluster of ulcers in the mouth.
Cold sores – Also called fever blisters, these are fluid filled sores which develop on and around the lips. They rarely occur on the gums and palate. They are tender and burning.
Mouth irritation – Sometimes, irritation develops in the mouth caused by the following factors:
- Biting your lip, tongue or cheek
- Wearing dental apparatus like braces or having broken, sharp tooth
- Burning caused from hot foods or drinks
- Having gum disease or any other mouth infections
- Having allergic reactions to foods or medications
- Having autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, Behcet’s disease or lupus which affect the mucus lining of the mouth
- Taking certain medications for rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy, chemotherapeutic agents or antibiotics
- Radiation therapy for cancer treatment
Symptoms of Stomatitis
Symptoms associated with canker sores include:
- Sore lasting for 5 – 10 days
- Painful sores
- Sores tend to resume back
- Sores are not associated with fever
Symptoms associated with cold sores include:
- Sores that will not remain more than 7 – 10 days
- Painful sores
- Sores associated with cold and flu
Causes of Stomatitis
Canker sore causes
The exact cause if canker sores is not known, however, there are several factors that contribute for their development. They include poor nutrition, trauma to the mouth, certain medications, lack of sleep, stress, sudden weight loss, bacteria or viruses and some foods like citrus fruits, potatoes, chocolate, coffee, nuts and cheese.
Some other factors responsible for canker sores include:
- Temporary drop in immune system functioning – This effect usually happens due to hormonal changes, cold or flu, low levels of folate or vitamin B12.
- Chewing hard food pieces or biting inside of the cheek
- Genetic predisposition
Nearly 20% of people in the U.S suffer from canker sores at some point of their life, especially women more often than men.
Cold sore causes
Cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. These sores are contagious from the time the blisters break to the time they are completely healed. Initially when cold sores develop, they are confused with a cold or flu. Once the person gets infected with the virus, it remains in the body, getting reactivated by factors like fever, stress, hormonal changes, stress and exposure to sun.
Cold sores tend to reappear in the same location. They can even spread to other body parts like eyes and genital organs.
Treatment for Stomatitis
For Canker sores
Mouth sores usually last for 2 weeks without any treatment. However, treatment becomes necessary when they remain for longer periods. If the particular cause is known, the doctor will treat it accordingly. If the cause is not identified, then the treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms.
Here are the strategies that will help in easing the pain and inflammation of the mouth sores:
- Avoid spicy, citrus based and salty foods, likewise avoid hot beverages
- Use pain relieve medications like Tylenol
- Suck on ice pops or gargle with cool water if you have mouth burns
Here are the treatment strategies for canker sores:
- Rinse mouth with salt solution
- Drink lots of water
- Maintain good oral hygiene
- Application of topical anesthetic (xylocaine or lidocaine) on the ulcer
- Application of baking soda water solution or hydrogen peroxide water solution on the ulcer
- Application of topical preparations like triamcinolone, a corticosteroid which helps protect sores on lips and gums
For severe mouth sores, treatments include Aphthasol (anti-inflammatory paste), Peridex mouthwash and Lidex gel.
For Cold sores
There is no cure for cold sores or fever blisters. Treatments include:
- Applying protective ointment such as acyclovir, an antiviral agent
- Applying ice pops to the lesion