Mouth inflammation: A warning sign from our body

mouth inflammation

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is our body's response to injuries and infections. It is a vital defense mechanism which allows detecting, destroying and eliminating all substances not recognized by our body.
However, if the inflammatory process goes on for too long or if the inflammatory response occurs in places where it is not needed, it can become problematic: The damage is then more than the benefits.

The peculiarity of mouth inflammation

Mouth inflammation also called stomatitis which means inflammation of the stomodeum: It is the name of the embryonic tissue from which the mouth and associated structures are derived.
It can affect the cheeks, gums, tongue, lips or even the palate, and is mainly characterized by ulcerations. Depending on the location of the inflammation, the stomatitis will take more specific names. Examples include glossitis if the inflammation is on the tongue, gingivitis for the gums or cheilitis for the lips.

The most common situations of mouth inflammation

Depending on the location and causes of mouth inflammation, different forms of stomatitis can occur, here are the most common:

Aphthous stomatitis

canker sores
Aphthous stomatitis is made up of small, painful canker sores (ulcers) inside the mouth, which typically occur in childhood and recur frequently. These are small whitish or yellowish spots surrounded by a red circle.
Nobody knows what exactly causes canker sores, but many things may contribute to their development, such as certain medications, trauma to the mouth, poor nutrition, stress, bacteria or viruses, lack of sleep, sudden weight loss, and certain foods such as potatoes, citrus fruits, coffee, chocolate, cheese, and nuts.

Here are its main features:
  • Start with a feeling of pain followed in a day or two by ulceration,
  • Always form on soft tissue such as cheek, lips, tongue, throat and below the tongue,
  • The spots are round or oval, limited by a red border,
  • Intense pain that lasts 4 to 7 days,
  • Disappear after 10 days without leaving a trace,
  • Tend to come back.

Their treatment is first to relieve the pain, your doctor should prescribe you:
  • Pain relievers
  • Mouthwash
  • Oral corticosteroids

Infectious oral inflammation

The mouth is a niche for microorganisms, it is the most colonized part of our body with more than 500 different genera and species of bacteria.

These bacteria live in harmony in our mouth, however, in the case of imbalance, aggressive bacteria will dominate, leading to the appearance of abscesses and sometimes causing generalized inflammation (cellulite). These also concern periodontal diseases (tissues that surround the tooth), the proliferation of certain bacteria will cause the appearance of gingivitis which is manifested by swelling, redness and bleeding of the gum, untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis which is more severe.

Our mouth also hosts yeasts. The best known is Candida albicans. Under normal conditions, like bacteria, It normally resides in the mouth. However, in some cases: Treatment with an inappropriate antibiotic, immune system deficit, certain viral infections and general diseases such as AIDS, diabetes, this microorganism can proliferate quickly and cause an infection manifested by whitish plaques. These can detach from their surface revealing red and inflamed tissue.
oral yeast infection
Treatment of stomatitis caused by local infections consists in eliminating the infection by drainage of the abscess, extraction or endodontic treatment according to the situation, associated or not with antibiotics.
For oral yeast infections, most of the time, they cure spontaneously and do not require treatment, in case of persistence, your doctor will prescribe antifungal agents and mouthwashes antiseptic.

In addition to local infections, some bacteria and viruses will manifest their pathogenic powers in our mouth, especially the herpes virus which is the most common infectious cause of mouth ulcers and cold sores on the lip.
Certain bacteria such as syphilis, which is sexually transmitted, can cause a painless white sore (chancre) to develop in the mouth or on the lips at the early stage of infection.

Oral inflammation due to irritation or trauma

It concerns all types of damage or injuries inflicted on the mouth, for example:

  • Biting your cheek, tongue, or lip,
  • An inappropriate dental prosthesis or orthodontic bracket,
  • Sensitivity to certain foods and medications that can trigger allergic reactions, causing mouth ulcers,
  • Tobacco addiction. The mouth is exposed to irritants, toxins and carcinogens that are found naturally in tobacco products. In addition, tobacco is a dehydrating agent that deprives the mouth of the protective role of saliva. Tobacco is also responsible for the increase in oral temperatures and changes in mouth acidity, creating an environment favorable to the development of aggressive bacteria.

When to consult a doctor?

Not all oral inflammations require immediate medical attention. But, there are situations and signs that should alarm you. Here are the most common:

  • Fever,
  • Lymphadenopathy,
  • Blisters on the surface of the skin,
  • Eye inflammation,
  • All kinds of ulcers in people with compromised immune systems (like people with HIV infection, diabetes...).

People with warning signs should see a doctor immediately. Also, those who find it difficult to eat or who have persistent ulcerations longer than 10 days should be examined to ensure the benignity of the lesion.

Some useful tips

  • Balance your diet, it has been shown that certain forms of ulceration are linked to a deficiency in vitamin B-12, folic acid, iron, and zinc
  • Favor a soft diet.
  • Start the meal by lubricating the mouth with a tablespoon of cream or oil.
  • Take small sips of water between each bite to moisten the mouth.
  • Avoid foods of which you have a high sensitivity and use a straw if you find it difficult to drink.
  • Consume frozen foods or liquids to help relieve symptoms of irritation.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and foods that can irritate your mouth by their acidity, seasoning or texture.
  • If your mouth is dry, hydrate it. Dry mouth can worsen symptoms.
  • Examine your mouth frequently and note each change in appearance, texture and color of the lips, gums, teeth, saliva, and tongue.
  • Take care of your oral hygiene:
    • Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush after each meal for at least two minutes.
    • Prefer natural mouthwashes consisting of water, salt and baking soda.

    • Recipe: mix a teaspoon of salt and baking soda with one liter of boiled water. This solution should be prepared daily and kept at room temperature.

    • Gargle for at least 30 seconds with 15 ml of this solution, spit out and repeat 4 times a day and more often if necessary;
    • Floss your teeth once a day. Flossing helps you to eliminate 30% of the remaining plaque between the teeth, inaccessible to brushing. You can also use an interdental brush if your teeth are not tight. The oral irrigator will also be effective. A study has shown that oral irrigator reduces inflammation of the gums.
    • Take care of your dentures by cleaning them frequently.
    • Drink at least 2 liters of water per day.