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Stomatitis is inflammation or ulcers in the mouth, sometimes called dental stomatitis or denture stomatitis.

The mucous membranes lining the mouth get inflamed and sore, which can make it uncomfortable to speak, eat or sleep. This condition can occur anywhere within the mouth, including the inside of the cheeks, gums, tongue, lips and palate.

The condition does not get passed on to other people.

Who gets stomatitis?

Wearing dentures or braces can increase the chances of getting stomatitis as these may cause irritation.

It is also more common in people with some medical conditions, including diabetes, and people taking steroids or antibiotics.

Symptoms of stomatitis

Symptoms can include:

  • Mouth ulcers, often inside the cheeks, on the tongue or inside the lips.
  • Cold sores or blisters caused by the herpes virus, often around the lips.
  • Mouth irritation.

Causes of stomatitis

Causes include:

  • Biting the cheek, tongue or lip
  • Wearing braces, using dentures, or a sharp broken tooth.
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Burning the inside of the mouth with hot food or drink
  • Gum disease (gingivitis)
  • Mouth infections
  • Sensitivity to some foods or ingredients
  • Sensitivity to some medication
  • Having some autoimmune conditions, including lupus, Crohn's disease or Behcet's disease
  • Radiotherapy cancer treatment.

Treatment for stomatitis

The main treatment for stomatitis is good oral hygiene – brushing the teeth twice a day and other things your dentist may recommend, such as flossing or mouthwash.

If dentures or braces are causing problems, see your dentist. Better cleaning may be needed or adjustments may need to be made.

Medicated lozenges may be recommended to treat stomatitis if other measures haven’t helped.

Painkillers may help with discomfort and swelling.

Home care tips include:

  • Avoiding food or drink that's too hot and possible trigger foods – such as spicy food or citrus drinks.
  • Gargling, salt water rinses or use of special mouthwashes may help with discomfort.
  • Gels are available for mouth ulcers, including age-appropriate ones for children.
  • Seek medical advice if stomatitis problems keep coming back – there may be an underlying medical cause or nutritional deficiency, such as a lack of folate or vitamin B12.
  • Over the counter treatments are available for cold sores, often containing an antiviral agent such as aciclovir. Oral antiviral tablets may be prescribed by a doctor in some cases.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 20, 2016

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