Even though it's not usually a dental emergency, oral pain shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Pain in the mouth is often caused by ulcers, canker sores, cold sores, and inflammation. There are types of mouth infections that can cause pain too. Inflammation is usually caused by yeast infections, tobacco use, medications, fungal infections, irritation, and some illnesses.
No matter the cause of mouth pain, there are different ways to help relieve it.
Dealing with mouth ulcers
To manage ulcers of the mouth, start by avoiding hot beverages, salty or spicy foods, and anything with citrus elements. These can increase the irritation and make you suffer longer.
Tobacco-caused ulcers can be healed by avoiding the use of all tobacco products. If tobacco use continues, it may take longer to heal and may even reappear.
Yeast infections in the mouth will require prescribed medication from your doctor. This medication can come in lozenges, liquid, or pill form.
Some ulcers can be caused by certain medications such as anti-cancer drugs. These drugs kill cells – even good ones sometimes – which is how they cause sores in the mouth. These sores require medicine to be applied directly to the sore.
Even if you aren’t sure what caused your ulcer, there are some general guidelines you can follow to heal and ease the pain. For example, using coating agents such as Orajel can ease the discomfort while eating or drinking. It’s also important to avoid sharp foods such as chips and to eliminate alcohol and mouth wash.
Dealing with canker sores and cold sores
A canker sore is a yellow-ish ulcer with a red ring surrounding it, usually on the cheeks inside the mouth, or inside the lip. Canker sores can be caused by certain medications, irritation to the mouth, malnutrition, stress, bacteria, lack of sleep, and certain foods.
Treatments that can help with canker sores includes drinking more water, rinsing with salt water, properly caring for your mouth, and using an anesthetic such as lidocaine. If you have reoccurring sores, talk to your doctor about being tested for a B12 deficiency and/or being prescribed corticosteroids.
Cold sores are also known as “fever blisters.” These are fluid-filled sores that are on or around the lips. Cold sores are caused by a virus called Herpes Simplex Type 1. These are contagious from the beginning until the end. Once you’ve been infected, the virus stays in the body dormant until reactivated. There is no known cure for cold sores, but they can be treated by taking a dose of a medication like Valtrex at the first sign of symptoms, coating sores with ointment, and icing the sore.
Dealing with mouth inflammation
Inflammation is a normal reaction of your body due to an injury. There are two types, acute and chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation usually heals after a few days. Acute inflammation can be caused by something as “minor” as burning your mouth with a drink that is too hot.
On the other hand, chronic inflammation can last longer and can possibly be caused by or factor in to other health problems such as diabetes or even cancer. Most often, however, it is typically caused by gum disease, occurring when your body naturally tries to rid your mouth of harmful bacteria.
Mouth inflammation is treated by keeping the affected area clean and it should heal within a few days.
With all of the above, a key to consider is whether your problem is getting better with attention or worse. If your mouth seems to be getting worse, contact your dentist for further recommendations. If the inflammation causes difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention.