The condition typically goes away in 10 days or less, but treatments may help reduce any unpleasant symptoms you experience.
There are many types of stomatitis, and each can cause its own symptoms.
Herpetic stomatitis is a condition in which a virus causes inflammation and ulcers in your mouth. Symptoms include:
- blisters in the mouth—particularly on the tongue, cheeks, and back of the tongue
- a red border around the lips
- trouble swallowing
- a fever before blisters appear
- mouth pain
- swollen gums
- ulcers in the mouth
- blisters that tingle or feel tender to the touch
- blisters that scab over
Stomatitis does not always cause blistering. Other symptoms associated with the condition include:
- gum and mouth swelling
- white lesions or sores
- a burning sensation in your mouth, although your mouth appears normal
- inability to eat
- mouth numbness
- red patches in your mouth
Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and potential causes. If necessary, he or she may also recommend treatments.
A number of factors can cause stomatitis, ranging from fungus to viruses to mouth injuries. Some common causes include:
- infection due to a virus, bacteria, or fungus such as Candida albicans
- injury or trauma to the mouth
- tobacco use
- chemotherapy or radiation treatment
- immune system conditions, such as lupus, Crohn’s disease or Behçet’s disease
- wearing braces or injury from a chipped tooth
If your stomatitis is a result of trauma—such as burning your mouth on a hot cup of coffee—you will know its cause. If an infection from bacteria or a virus is to blame, the cause will not be as clear without a doctor’s diagnosis.
While most forms of stomatitis go away naturally with time, some viruses can cause the infection to reoccur. This is especially true for cold sores or for those with recurrent aphthous stomatitis, a condition that causes frequent ulcers. In general, you cannot prevent these or other ulcers caused by viruses.
During your appointment, your doctor will begin by examining your mouth and asking questions about how long you have experienced stomatitis symptoms. He or she will likely ask you to explain your symptoms and rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. You may be asked to think back to potential contributing factors, such as an injury or a certain medication taken.
Most cases are diagnosed based on a physical examination and medical history alone. However, your doctor may order additional laboratory tests to check for a particular virus or bacteria, or to rule out other conditions.
Treatment for stomatitis depends upon the condition’s cause.
For viral infections, treatments may include:
- antiviral medications, such as acyclovir
- a liquid diet to minimize irritation
- numbing creams that are applied to your mouth to minimize pain
If you have a viral infection, it can be highly contagious. Avoid skin-to-skin contact on the area of irritation. Wash your hands frequently to prevent passing the virus on to another person.
Corticosteroids may be prescribed for all types of stomatitis, since they help reduce inflammation. For bacterial infections, you may be given antibiotics. Pain-relieving mouthwashes also may be prescribed.
At home, you can rinse your mouth with salt water and take pain-relieving acetaminophen as the affected area continues to heal. Avoid very hot or cold foods and beverages, because these can aggravate your stomatitis.
See your doctor if your symptoms do not go away after 10 days, you develop a fever, or the irritation spreads to other areas of your face.