Stomatitis is an inflammation of the mucous lining of any of the structures in the mouth including the cheeks, gums, tongue, lips, throat, and roof or floor of the mouth. It is an umbrella term that covers canker sores, cold sores and fever blisters.
Many of us experience stomatitis as an inflammation at the corner of our mouths. It presents as a painful raw fissures that may become bright red in color and extend between the juncture of lips. This very common condition is referred to as angular stomatitis.
Canker sores are also common and can be caused by chewing tobacco, gum disease, radiation or any type of mouth infection. Even biting the inside of one’s cheek can cause a canker sore to occur on the inside of the cheek. They usually last 5 to 10 days and tend to come back.
Cold sores are usually very painful, and are often associated with cold or flu-like symptoms and with the virus herpes simplex type 1. The symptoms are usually gone within 7 to 10 days.
The Causes of Stomatitis
In both children and adults the most common cause of stomatitis is repeated lip licking. This could be because of dry heat indoors, chapped lips from a fever or being too cold or hot.
In adults it may be a sign of underlying iron deficiency anemia, or vitamin B deficiencies (e.g. B2-riboflavin, B9-folate or B12-cobalamin). Fissures at the corner of the mouth can be the result of malnutrition.
The Inflammation can be caused by conditions in the mouth itself, caused by such issue as poor oral hygiene, poorly fitted dentures, or from mouth burns from hot food or drinks.
Conditions that affect the entire body, such as medications, allergic reactions, or infections can also trigger stomatitis.
A form of stomatitis known as stomatitis nicotina can be caused by smoking cigars, cigarettes, and pipes, and is characterized by small red bumps on the roof of the mouth.
Prevention and Care of Stomatis
Cracks at the corner of the mouth are quite common. It is important to keep the corners of the lips well moisturized with Vaseline or a lip balm to avoid the loss of moisture from the lips can cause them to become cracked and dehydrated.
Stay away from eating spicy, very hot or very cold foods, which can make the inflammation worse, especially if the inflammation is inside your mouth.
Supplementation with lysine and B vitamins may help relieve angular stomatitis. Using a mouthwash recommended by a dentist may also help alleviate the dryness associated with dental issues.
Rinsing with salt water three times a day can also help with the pain and swelling caused by abrasive dentures and canker sores.
Most cases of stomatitis go away on their own. If the dry tongue or mouth and the fissures at the side of the mouth are chronic, then it may be time to address the underlying condition that may be causing it by making lifestyle changes, having dental appliances adjusied and moisturizing your lips and mouth as needed.
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