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    Mouth Problems, Noninjury

    Mouth Problems, Noninjury

    Topic Overview

    It is not unusual to have a problem with your mouth from time to time. A mouth problem can involve your gums, lips, tongue, or inner cheeks, the roof of your mouth (soft and hard palates), under your tongue, your neck, or your teeth. Your mouth may be dry, or food may not taste right. You may have bad breath or a sore on your lip, gums, or tongue that makes it hard to eat or talk. Many of these problems can get better with home treatment.

    Common mouth problems include:

    • Sores, such as cold sores (also called fever blisters) and canker sores . Canker sores develop inside the mouth, while cold sores and impetigo usually affect the area around the outside of the mouth.
    • Infections, which can be caused by a virus (such as herpes simplex ) or a bacteria (such as epiglottitis , or impetigo , or a sexually transmitted infection ). An infection is more serious when it causes rapid swelling of the tongue or throat and blockage of the airway.
    • Tender, red splits or cracks at the corner of your mouth ( angular cheilitis ), which can be caused by infection, a diet too low in vitamins, and over-closure of the mouth in someone who has been without teeth or dentures for some time.
    • Chapped lips, which may be caused by dry, windy, cold, or very hot weather.
    • Dry mouth (xerostomia). A common cause of dry mouth is dehydration . Over time, having a dry mouth increases your risk of mouth infections, gum disease, and dental cavities.
    • Thick, hard white patches inside the mouth that cannot be wiped off (leukoplakia). This is commonly caused by irritation of the mouth, such as from a rough tooth or poorly fitting denture rubbing against tissue or from smoking or using smokeless (spit) tobacco.
    • Thrush , a common infection of the mouth and tongue caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Thrush appears on the mouth and tongue as white patches that look like cottage cheese or milk curds. When the patches are wiped away, the underlying area appears red and raw and may bleed. In babies, thrush may cause a rash in the diaper area.
    • Taste changes. Your sense of taste may be decreased, lost, or changed, such as a metallic taste in your mouth.

    Your tongue may become sore or swollen, or it may change color or texture. A buildup of food and bacteria on the tongue may make the tongue look thick or furry ("hairy tongue"). Often the problems will go away if the surface of the tongue is regularly brushed with a soft-bristled toothbrush. If your tongue problem is from some local irritation, such as tobacco use, removing the source of the irritation may clear up the tongue problem. Rapid swelling of the tongue can be caused by an allergic reaction , which can interfere with breathing.

    Bad breath (halitosis) or changed breath can be an embarrassing problem. Make sure that you brush your teeth twice each day and floss once a day to decrease the bacteria that can cause bad breath. Brushing your tongue can also help.

    The use of alcohol and tobacco can cause many mouth problems. Your chances of having oral cancer are increased if you smoke, use smokeless (spit) tobacco, or use alcohol excessively.

    Mouth problems may occur more commonly with other conditions and diseases, such as diabetes , Down syndrome , and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) . Many medicines also can cause mouth problems.

    Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.

    Check Your Symptoms

    Do you have a mouth problem?
    A mouth problem can involve the lips, tongue, gums, teeth, or any of the tissue inside the mouth.
    Yes
    Mouth problem
    No
    Mouth problem
    How old are you?
    Less than 3 months
    Less than 3 months
    3 to 11 months
    3 to 11 months
    1 to 11 years
    1 to 11 years
    12 years or older
    12 years or older
    Are you male or female?
    Male
    Male
    Female
    Female
    Do you have an injury to your mouth or teeth?
    Yes
    Injury to mouth or teeth
    No
    Injury to mouth or teeth
    Do you have a toothache or a problem with your gums?
    Yes
    Toothache or gum problem
    No
    Toothache or gum problem
    Is pain or soreness in the back of your mouth and throat your main concern?
    Yes
    Pain or soreness in back of mouth and throat is main concern
    No
    Pain or soreness in back of mouth and throat is main concern
    Do you think your baby may be dehydrated?
    Yes
    May be dehydrated
    No
    May be dehydrated
    Are the symptoms severe, moderate, or mild?
    Severe
    Severe dehydration
    Moderate
    Moderate dehydration
    Mild
    Mild dehydration
    Do you think you may be dehydrated?
    Yes
    May be dehydrated
    No
    May be dehydrated
    Are the symptoms severe, moderate, or mild?
    Severe
    Severe dehydration
    Moderate
    Moderate dehydration
    Mild
    Mild dehydration
    Are you having trouble drinking enough to replace the fluids you've lost?
    Little sips of fluid usually are not enough. You need to be able to take in and keep down plenty of fluids.
    Yes
    Unable to maintain fluid intake
    No
    Able to maintain fluid intake
    Are you having trouble breathing (more than a stuffy nose)?
    Yes
    Difficulty breathing more than a stuffy nose
    No
    Difficulty breathing more than a stuffy nose
    Would you describe the breathing problem as severe, moderate, or mild?
    Severe
    Severe difficulty breathing
    Moderate
    Moderate difficulty breathing
    Mild
    Mild difficulty breathing
    Is your tongue swollen?
    Yes
    Swollen tongue
    No
    Swollen tongue
    Yes
    Suddenly drooling and unable to swallow
    No
    Suddenly drooling and unable to swallow
    Could you be having a severe allergic reaction?
    This is more likely if you have had a bad reaction to something in the past.
    Yes
    Possible severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
    No
    Possible severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
    Could you be having symptoms of a heart attack?
    In some cases, a heart attack may cause a strange feeling in part of the face, such as the jaw.
    Yes
    Symptoms of heart attack
    No
    Symptoms of heart attack
    Are you having trouble eating or swallowing?
    Yes
    Difficulty eating or swallowing
    No
    Difficulty eating or swallowing
    Are you having trouble moving your tongue, chewing, or swallowing?
    Yes
    Difficulty moving tongue, chewing, or swallowing
    No
    Difficulty moving tongue, chewing, or swallowing
    Could you be having symptoms of a stroke?
    Yes
    Symptoms of stroke
    No
    Symptoms of stroke
    Did the problems with chewing and swallowing start suddenly?
    Yes
    Difficulty moving tongue, chewing, or swallowing started suddenly
    No
    Difficulty moving tongue, chewing, or swallowing started suddenly
    Can you swallow food or fluids at all?
    Yes
    Able to swallow food or fluids
    No
    Unable to swallow food or fluids
    Is there any pain?
    Yes
    Pain
    No
    Pain
    How bad is the pain on a scale of 0 to 10, if 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine?
    8 to 10: Severe pain
    Severe pain
    5 to 7: Moderate pain
    Moderate pain
    1 to 4: Mild pain
    Mild pain
    Has the pain lasted for more than 2 days?
    Yes
    Pain for more than 2 days
    No
    Pain for more than 2 days
    Are there any symptoms of infection?
    Yes
    Symptoms of infection
    No
    Symptoms of infection
    Do you think you may have a fever?
    Yes
    Possible fever
    No
    Possible fever
    Are there red streaks leading away from the area or pus draining from it?
    Yes
    Red streaks or pus
    No
    Red streaks or pus
    Do you have diabetes or a weakened immune system?
    What weakens the immune system in an adult or older child may be different than in a young child or baby.
    Yes
    Diabetes or immune problem
    No
    Diabetes or immune problem
    Do you have any sores in or around your mouth?
    Yes
    Sores in or around mouth
    No
    Sores in or around mouth
    Does your child have any mouth sores that look like blisters?
    Yes
    Child has mouth sores that look like blisters
    No
    Child has mouth sores that look like blisters
    Are you concerned that a new sore may have been caused by sexual contact?
    Yes
    New sore may be related to sexual contact
    No
    New sore may be related to sexual contact
    Do you think you may have a fever?
    Yes
    Possible fever
    No
    Possible fever
    Do you feel sick?
    Yes
    Feels sick
    No
    Feels sick
    Do you often get mouth sores?
    Yes
    Often gets mouth sores
    No
    Often gets mouth sores
    Is there a crusty, honey-colored drainage coming from the sore?
    Yes
    Crusty, honey-colored drainage from sores around mouth
    No
    Crusty, honey-colored drainage from sores around mouth
    Is there a black or brown coating on your tongue?
    Yes
    Black or brown coating on tongue
    No
    Black or brown coating on tongue
    Have you tried home treatment for the black coating on your tongue?
    Yes
    Tried home treatment for black coating on tongue
    No
    Tried home treatment for black coating on tongue
    Are there white patches in the mouth?
    Yes
    White patches in mouth
    No
    White patches in mouth
    Are you being treated for thrush?
    Thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth and tongue.
    Yes
    Being treated for thrush
    No
    Being treated for thrush
    Have the thrush symptoms:
    Gotten worse?
    Thrush symptoms have gotten worse
    Stayed the same (not better or worse)?
    Thrush symptoms have not changed
    Started to get better?
    Thrush symptoms are improving
    Did you start treatment for thrush more than 4 days ago?
    Yes
    Thrush treatment for more than 4 days
    No
    Thrush treatment for more than 4 days
    Do you think that a medicine could be causing the mouth problem?
    Think about whether the problem started soon after you began using a new medicine or a higher dose of a medicine.
    Yes
    Medicine may be causing mouth problem
    No
    Medicine may be causing mouth problem
    Are your lips or the inside of your mouth burning, tingling, or numb?
    Yes
    Burning, tingling, or numbness of mouth or lips
    No
    Burning, tingling, or numbness of mouth or lips
    Do you have burning, tingling, or numbness all the time?
    Yes
    Burning, tingling, or numbness of mouth or lips is constant
    No
    Burning, tingling, or numbness of mouth or lips is constant
    Has the burning, tingling, or numbness lasted for more than 3 days?
    Yes
    Burning, tingling, or numbness for more than 3 days
    No
    Burning, tingling, or numbness for more than 3 days
    Does your breath have a fruity odor?
    Yes
    Fruity odor to breath
    No
    Fruity odor to breath
    Have you had a metallic taste in your mouth for more than 3 days?
    Yes
    Metallic taste for more than 3 days
    No
    Metallic taste for more than 3 days
    Are dentures or any other type of dental device (like a crown or filling, for instance) causing pain or discomfort?
    Yes
    Discomfort from dentures or other dental appliance
    No
    Discomfort from dentures or other dental appliance
    Are the dentures or other dental appliance broken?
    Yes
    Broken dentures or dental appliance
    No
    Broken dentures or dental appliance
    Do you think your mouth problem may be caused by grinding your teeth?
    Yes
    Problem caused by grinding teeth
    No
    Problem caused by grinding teeth
    Have you had mouth problems for more than 2 weeks?
    Yes
    Mouth problems for more than 2 weeks
    No
    Mouth problems for more than 2 weeks

    Call 911 Now

    Based on your answers, you need emergency care.

    Call 911 or other emergency services now.

    Symptoms of a heart attack may include:

    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms.
    • Lightheadedness or sudden weakness.
    • A fast or irregular heartbeat.

    The more of these symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you're having a heart attack. Chest pain or pressure is the most common symptom, but some people, especially women, may not notice it as much as other symptoms. You may not have chest pain at all but instead have shortness of breath, nausea, numbness, tingling, or a strange feeling in your chest or other areas.

    Pain in adults and older children

    • Severe pain (8 to 10): The pain is so bad that you can't stand it for more than a few hours, can't sleep, and can't do anything else except focus on the pain.
    • Moderate pain (5 to 7): The pain is bad enough to disrupt your normal activities and your sleep, but you can tolerate it for hours or days. Moderate can also mean pain that comes and goes even if it's severe when it's there.
    • Mild pain (1 to 4): You notice the pain, but it is not bad enough to disrupt your sleep or activities.

    Babies can quickly get dehydrated when they lose fluids because of problems like vomiting or fever.

    Symptoms of dehydration can range from mild to severe. For example:

    • The baby may be fussy or cranky (mild dehydration), or the baby may be very sleepy and hard to wake up (severe dehydration).
    • The baby may have a little less urine than usual (mild dehydration), or the baby may not be urinating at all (severe dehydration).

    Seek Care Today

    Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.

    • Call your dentist today to discuss the symptoms and arrange for care.
    • If you cannot reach your dentist or you don't have one, seek care today.
    • If it is evening, watch the symptoms and seek care in the morning.
    • If the symptoms get worse, seek care sooner.
    Toothache and Gum Problems

    Try Home Treatment

    You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.

    • Try home treatment to relieve the symptoms.
    • Call your doctor if symptoms get worse or you have any concerns (for example, if symptoms are not getting better as you would expect). You may need care sooner.

    Seek Care Today

    Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.

    • Call your doctor today to discuss the symptoms and arrange for care.
    • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don't have one, seek care today.
    • If it is evening, watch the symptoms and seek care in the morning.
    • If the symptoms get worse, seek care sooner.
    Mouth and Dental Injuries

    Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can cause mouth problems. A few examples are:

    • Antibiotics.
    • Some seizure medicines.
    • Medicines used to treat cancer (chemotherapy).
    • Steroid medicines.
    • Medicines used after organ transplant.

    Make an Appointment

    Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.

    • Make an appointment to see your dentist in the next 1 to 2 weeks.
    • If appropriate, try home treatment while you are waiting for the appointment.
    • If symptoms get worse or you have any concerns, call your dentist. You may need care sooner.

    Seek Care Now

    Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.

    • Call your doctor now to discuss the symptoms and arrange for care.
    • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don't have one, seek care in the next hour.
    • You do not need to call an ambulance unless:
      • You cannot travel safely either by driving yourself or by having someone else drive you.
      • You are in an area where heavy traffic or other problems may slow you down.

    Pain in children under 3 years

    It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.

    • Severe pain (8 to 10): The pain is so bad that the baby cannot sleep, cannot get comfortable, and cries constantly no matter what you do. The baby may kick, make fists, or grimace.
    • Moderate pain (5 to 7): The baby is very fussy, clings to you a lot, and may have trouble sleeping but responds when you try to comfort him or her.
    • Mild pain (1 to 4): The baby is a little fussy and clings to you a little but responds when you try to comfort him or her.
    Sore Throat and Other Throat Problems

    Severe trouble breathing means:

    • The child cannot eat or talk because he or she is breathing so hard.
    • The child's nostrils are flaring and the belly is moving in and out with every breath.
    • The child seems to be tiring out.
    • The child seems very sleepy or confused.

    Moderate trouble breathing means:

    • The child is breathing a lot faster than usual.
    • The child has to take breaks from eating or talking to breathe.
    • The nostrils flare or the belly moves in and out at times when the child breathes.

    Mild trouble breathing means:

    • The child is breathing a little faster than usual.
    • The child seems a little out of breath but can still eat or talk.

    Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:

    • Your age. Babies and older adults tend to get sicker quicker.
    • Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care sooner.
    • Medicines you take. Certain medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements can cause symptoms or make them worse.
    • Recent health events, such as surgery or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them more serious.
    • Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug use, sexual history, and travel.

    Severe trouble breathing means:

    • You cannot talk at all.
    • You have to work very hard to breathe.
    • You feel like you can't get enough air.
    • You do not feel alert or cannot think clearly.

    Moderate trouble breathing means:

    • It's hard to talk in full sentences.
    • It's hard to breathe with activity.

    Mild trouble breathing means:

    • You feel a little out of breath but can still talk.
    • It's becoming hard to breathe with activity.

    Severe dehydration means:

    • Your mouth and eyes may be extremely dry.
    • You may pass little or no urine for 12 or more hours.
    • You may not feel alert or be able to think clearly.
    • You may be too weak or dizzy to stand.
    • You may pass out.

    Moderate dehydration means:

    • You may be a lot more thirsty than usual.
    • Your mouth and eyes may be drier than usual.
    • You may pass little or no urine for 8 or more hours.
    • You may feel dizzy when you stand or sit up.

    Mild dehydration means:

    • You may be more thirsty than usual.
    • You may pass less urine than usual.

    Symptoms of infection may include:

    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in or around the area.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

    Symptoms of difficulty breathing can range from mild to severe. For example:

    • You may feel a little out of breath but still be able to talk (mild difficulty breathing), or you may be so out of breath that you cannot talk at all (severe difficulty breathing).
    • It may be getting hard to breathe with activity (mild difficulty breathing), or you may have to work very hard to breathe even when you?re at rest (severe difficulty breathing).

    Sudden drooling and trouble swallowing can be signs of a serious problem called epiglottitis. This problem can happen at any age.

    The epiglottis is a flap of tissue at the back of the throat that you can't see when you look in the mouth. When you swallow, it closes to keep food and fluids out of the tube (trachea) that leads to the lungs. If the epiglottis becomes inflamed or infected, it can swell and quickly block the airway. This makes it very hard to breathe.

    The symptoms start suddenly. A person with epiglottitis is likely to seem very sick, have a fever, drool, and have trouble breathing, swallowing, and making sounds. In the case of a child, you may notice the child trying to sit up and lean forward with his or her jaw forward, because it's easier to breathe in this position.

    To do home treatment for a black or coated tongue:

    • Brush your tongue daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste or a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 2 parts water.
    • Scrape the tongue with the edge of a spoon to remove the furry coating.
    • Do not use tobacco.

    Bismuth products, such as Pepto-Bismol, can turn your tongue black. The black color will go away after you stop taking the medicine.

    Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in children are:

    • Diseases such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, and congenital heart disease.
    • Steroid medicines, which are used to treat a variety of conditions.
    • Medicines taken after organ transplant.
    • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer.
    • Not having a spleen.

    Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) may include:

    • The sudden appearance of raised, red areas (hives) all over the body.
    • Rapid swelling of the throat, mouth, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.

    A severe reaction can be life-threatening. If you have had a bad allergic reaction to a substance before and are exposed to it again, treat any symptoms as an emergency. Even if the symptoms are mild at first, they may quickly become very severe.

    Call 911 Now

    Based on your answers, you need emergency care.

    Call 911 or other emergency services now.

    After you call 911 , the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength (325 mg) or 2 to 4 low-dose (81 mg) aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.

    Make an Appointment

    Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.

    • Make an appointment to see your doctor in the next 1 to 2 weeks.
    • If appropriate, try home treatment while you are waiting for the appointment.
    • If symptoms get worse or you have any concerns, call your doctor. You may need care sooner.

    Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:

    • Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS.
    • Long-term alcohol and drug problems.
    • Steroid medicines, which may be used to treat a variety of conditions.
    • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer.
    • Other medicines used to treat autoimmune disease.
    • Medicines taken after organ transplant.
    • Not having a spleen.

    Symptoms of a stroke may include:

    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

    Severe dehydration means:

    • The baby may be very sleepy and hard to wake up.
    • The baby may have a very dry mouth and very dry eyes (no tears).
    • The baby may have no wet diapers in 12 or more hours.

    Moderate dehydration means:

    • The baby may have no wet diapers in 6 hours.
    • The baby may have a dry mouth and dry eyes (fewer tears than usual).

    Mild dehydration means:

    • The baby may pass a little less urine than usual.

    You can get dehydrated when you lose a lot of fluids because of problems like vomiting or fever.

    Symptoms of dehydration can range from mild to severe. For example:

    • You may feel tired and edgy (mild dehydration), or you may feel weak, not alert, and not able to think clearly (severe dehydration).
    • You may pass less urine than usual (mild dehydration), or you may not be passing urine at all (severe dehydration).

    Home Treatment

    Mouth problems are common and can be very annoying. But most mouth problems are minor and will clear up with home treatment and time. Simple home treatment measures, such as increasing your fluid intake to prevent dehydration and using a humidifier inside your home, can relieve many mouth problems. Try home treatment when you have one of the following mouth problems:

    • Chapped lips. Avoid licking or biting your lips. Protect your lips with lipstick or a lip balm, such as a water-based product. If your lips are severely chapped, build a barrier by applying petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, for a short time and then switch to a water-based product. Avoid sun or wind exposure. Using a humidifier in your home may help.
    • A dry mouth. Avoid caffeinated beverages, tobacco, and alcohol, all of which increase dryness in your mouth.
    • Bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, a black or coated tongue, or "hairy tongue." You can freshen your breath by brushing your teeth, tongue, roof of your mouth, and gums. Sometimes just rinsing your mouth with fresh water will freshen your breath and make your mouth taste better.

    Sore or ulcer inside your mouth

    Changes in your diet can also help if you have a sore or ulcer inside your mouth, such as a canker sore.

    • Drink cold liquids, such as water or iced tea, or eat flavored ice pops or frozen juices. Use a straw to keep the liquid from coming in contact with your mouth sore.
    • Eat soft, bland foods that are easy to swallow, such as ice cream, custard, applesauce, cottage cheese, macaroni and cheese, soft-cooked eggs, yogurt, or cream soups.
    • Cut foods into small pieces, or grind, mash, blend, or puree foods.
    • Avoid coffee, chocolate, spicy and salty foods, citrus fruits, nuts, seeds, and tomatoes.

    Pain relief

    • If you have a painful sore on the outside of your lip, apply ice to the area when you first feel a sore coming on (tingling or prickly feeling at the site). This may help reduce the pain and dry out the sore. Apply the ice directly to the sore?5 minutes on, 10 minutes off?repeating as desired.
    • Rinse with an antacid, such as Maalox or Mylanta, or dab it on your sores with a cotton swab.
    • Avoid very hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks if they increase your pain.
    • Apply petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to ease the cracking and dryness of a lip sore.
    • Use a lip protector, such as Blistex or Campho-Phenique, to ease the pain. Don't share your lip protector with others, because cold sores are contagious.
    • Puncture a vitamin E capsule and squeeze the oil onto the sore. This soothes inflammation and protects the sore.
    Medicine you can buy without a prescription
    Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

    Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

    Safety tips
    Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
    • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
    • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
    • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
    • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
    • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
    • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

    Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

    Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

    • Signs of dehydration develop, such as being thirstier than usual and having darker urine than usual.
    • Signs of infection develop.
    • Symptoms persist or become more severe or frequent.

    Prevention

    Many mouth problems can be prevented. Try some of the following home prevention measures to prevent:

    • Cold sores. Avoid direct physical contact with people who have a cold sore. Remember, cold sores are caused by a contagious virus ( herpes type 1 ). Children often become infected by contact with parents, siblings, or other close relatives who have cold sores.
    • Canker sores. Avoid injury to the inside of the mouth and foods that can trigger a canker sore.
    • Bad breath. Practice good dental care: Brush your teeth twice each day, and floss once a day.
    • Dry mouth. Make sure you are drinking enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Hard candies can increase saliva and help prevent problems with a dry mouth.

    Tobacco can cause mouth problems. Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.

    Avoid alcohol, which can cause a dry mouth and bad breath and can increase your risk of canker sores.

    Preparing For Your Appointment

    To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

    You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

    • What is your main symptom?
    • When did your symptoms start?
    • Have you had this problem before? If so, do you know what the cause was at that time? How was it treated?
    • What home treatment measures have you tried? Have they helped?
    • What nonprescription medicines have you tried? Have they helped?
    • Have you started on any new medicines or had a change in the dosage of a medicine?
    • What is your routine for taking care of your teeth and gums? When did you last visit a dentist?
    • Do you have any health risks?

    Credits

    By Healthwise Staff
    William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
    David Messenger, MD
    Last Revised July 20, 2012

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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