What is stomatitis?

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Stomatitis: Overview

Stomatitis is swelling and redness of the lining of your mouth. It can cause painful sores that can make it hard for you to eat, drink, or swallow.

Stomatitis may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, a disease, or not taking care of your teeth and gums properly. Other causes include reactions to smoking, burns from hot food or drinks, or an allergic reaction. Allergy causes may be a result of flavorings such as spearmint or cinnamon that are used in chewing gum, toothpaste, soft drinks, candies, and other products.

Your doctor may prescribe pain medicines or special mouth rinses. You may be told to quit using some products that may be causing the sores. It can take up to 2 weeks for the sores to heal.

Some people with stomatitis also get a yeast infection of the mouth, called thrush. Medicines can treat this problem.

How can you care for stomatitis?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Use prescription mouth rinses as prescribed. Ask your doctor if you can freeze the mouth rinse in an ice cube tray. Sucking on a frozen cube of the mouth rinse can help ease the pain.
  • Make a rinse to keep your mouth from getting dry. Add 1 teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt to a quart of water. Use it to rinse your mouth 4 to 6 times each day. Spit out the rinse. Do not swallow it.
  • Do not use a mouthwash or other over-the-counter rinse with alcohol. These can dry out your mouth or cause more pain.
  • If your doctor gave you mouthwash or lozenges to treat your yeast infection, use them as directed.
  • Eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes and other cooked vegetables, noodles, applesauce, clear broth soups, yogurt, and cottage cheese. You can get extra protein by adding protein powder to milk shakes or breakfast drinks. Avoid eating spicy or crunchy foods.
  • Try eating cold foods such as ice cream or yogurt.
  • Avoid drinking high-acid juices such as orange, grapefruit, and cranberry juices.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Drinking through a straw may help with pain.
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Use a very soft toothbrush to brush your teeth at least two times a day. Or use your finger to brush your teeth if your mouth is sore.

Stomatitis: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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