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Stomatitis (stoma means mouth like opening) the terminology for general inflammation and soreness inside the mouth, including the gums, palate, tongue, lips, cheeks, etc. The oral ulcers can cause irritation and discomfort while talking, eating, etc.

Types of stomatitis

Canker sores- Also known as aphtous ulcer or aphthous stomatitis are lesions that develop inside the mouth, gums and on the lips. They may be whitish or yellowish in colour. It’s more common in children and young adults.

Cold sores or fever blisters- Since the causative agent is Herpes Simplex Virus 1, cold sores are also called herpes stomatitis. Cold sores are painful and are pus filled, occurring mostly on lips and corners of the mouth. Adults are vulnerable to having the infection.

Other types of mouth irritation can be caused by biting of cheek, injury through dental ornaments and piercings, mouth allergy, gum diseases, autoimmune disorders, vitamin deficiency etc.

Symptoms of stomatitis

The symptoms of canker sores and cold sores vary. We classify them as follows:

Canker sores: In most cases they are not painful and can last for 5-10 days. Chances of recurrence are there. The characteristic red oval ulcers appear inflamed, but they do not cause fever.

Cold sores: Fever, swelling of gum, pain, drooling and flu like symptoms are associated with cold sores. They typically last for a week or more. There could be chances of secondary infection when the blisters pop out.

Causes of Stomatitis

Canker sores: There’s no single reason behind canker sores. Some possible reasons are:

  • Mental and physical stress
  • Accidental injury due to severe brushing, biting cheek, etc.
  • From food allergy
  • Deficiency of vitamin B 12,iron, folate, zinc
  • Eating too much spicy and citrus foods, chewing tobacco

Cold sores: As said before, since Herpex Simplex Virus-1 type typically causes this infection, they are contagious in nature. The virus can spread through physical contact and sharing personal things with the infected person.

Diagnosis of stomatitis

Diagnosis involves physical examination of the lesions. Your doctor shall look at the characteristic symptoms and can tell you whether you have canker sores or cold sores. Furthermore, he will evaluate the symptoms you are experiencing in order to prescribe appropriate medicines.

A blood test may be suggested to confirm herpes infection. If canker sores show up often, then your doctor may conduct vitamin tests and check for bacterial infection with a biopsy of the ulcer.

Treatment of Stomatitis

Canker sores generally heal on their own.  Your doctor might suggest antibacterial mouthwash to get rid of infection. Ointments containing benzocaine and fluocinonide may be prescribed to combat the inflammation. If you have been diagnosed with vitamin or mineral deficiency, then you will need to take supplements as suggested by your doctor.

The treatment plan for cold sores involves the anti viral drug acyclovir along with pain relief medicines.

Home care for stomatitis

  • Avoid hot foods. Preferably have cold, soft and liquid foods. Stay away from acidic foods until the sores heal
  • Be very careful while brushing – do not run over the ulcers. Brush gently and slowly
  • You can rinse your mouth with salt – water solution
  • Get rid of stress and depression
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin C and B group vitamins.
  • You can apply ice over the lesions to soothe burning pain
  • Maintain personal hygiene and avoid physical contact with other individuals when you have herpes stomatitis

Stomatitis although doesn’t involve major reasons to worry about, nevertheless always get the ulcers checked by your doctor. With proper care and treatment, they go away within a week.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 19, 2015