Inflammation of the mucous lining of any of the structures in the mouth, which may involve the cheeks, gums, tongue, lips, and roof or floor of the mouth. The word "stomatitis" literally means inflammation of the mouth. The inflammation can be caused by conditions in the mouth itself, such as poor oral hygiene
, poorly fitted dentures, or from mouth burns
from hot food or drinks, or by conditions that affect the entire body, such as medications, allergic reactions, or infections.
Stomatitis is an inflammation of the lining of any of the soft-tissue structures of the mouth. Stomatitis is usually a painful condition, associated with redness, swelling, and occasional bleeding from the affected area. Bad breath
(halitosis) may also accompany the condition. Stomatitis affects all age groups, from the infant to the elderly.
Causes and symptoms
A number of factors can cause stomatitis; it is a fairly common problem in the general adult population in North America. Poorly fitted oral appliances, cheek biting, or jagged teeth can persistently irritate the oral structures. Chronic mouth breathing due to plugged nasal airways can cause dryness of the mouth tissues, which in turn leads to irritation. Drinking beverages that are too hot can burn the mouth, leading to irritation and pain
. Diseases, such as herpetic infections (the common cold
, measles, leukemia, AIDS
, and lack of vitamin C can present with oral signs. Other systemic diseases associated with stomatitis include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Behçet's syndrome, an inflammatory multisystem disorder of unknown cause.
Aphthous stomatitis, also known as recurrent aphthous ulcers (RAU) or canker sores
, is a specific type of stomatitis that presents with shallow, painful ulcers that are usually located on the lips, cheeks, gums, or roof or floor of the mouth. These ulcers can range from pinpoint size to up to 1 in (2.5 cm) or more in diameter. Though the causes of canker sores are unknown, nutritional deficiencies, especially of vitamin B12
, folate, or iron is suspected. Generalized or contact stomatitis can result from excessive use of alcohol, spices, hot food, or tobacco products. Sensitivity to mouthwashes, toothpastes, and lipstick can irritate the lining of the mouth. Exposure to heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, or bismuth can cause stomatitis. Thrush, a fungal infection, is a type of stomatitis.
Diagnosis of stomatitis can be difficult. A patient's history may disclose a dietary deficiency, a systemic disease, or contact with materials causing an allergic reaction. A physical examination
is done to evaluate the oral lesions and other skin problems. Blood tests may be done to determine if any infection is present. Scrapings of the lining of the mouth may be sent to the laboratory for microscopic evaluation, or cultures of the mouth may be done to determine if an infectious agent may be the cause of the problem.
The treatment of stomatitis is based on the problem causing it. Local cleansing and good oral hygiene are fundamental. Sharp-edged foods such as peanuts, tacos, and potato chips should be avoided. A soft-bristled toothbrush should be used, and the teeth and gums should be brushed carefully; the patient should avoid banging the toothbrush into the gums. Local factors, such as ill-fitting dental appliances or sharp teeth, can be corrected by a dentist. An infectious cause can usually be treated with medication. Systemic problems, such as AIDS, leukemia, and anemia are treated by the appropriate medical specialist. Minor mouth burns from hot beverages or hot foods will usually resolve on their own in a week or so. Chronic problems with aphthous stomatitis are treated by first correcting any vitamin B12
, iron, or folate deficiencies. If those therapies are unsuccessful, medication can be prescribed which can be applied to each aphthous ulcer with a cotton-tipped applicator. This therapy is successful with a limited number of patients. More recently, low-power treatment with a carbon dioxide laser has been found to relieve the discomfort of recurrent aphthae. Major outbreaks of aphthous stomatitis can be treated with tetracycline antibiotics
. Valacyclovir has been shown to be effective in treating stomatitis caused by herpesviruses.
Patients may also be given topical anesthetics (usually a 2% lidocaine gel) to relieve pain and a protective paste (Orabase) or a coating agent like Kaopectate to protect eroded areas from further irritation from dentures, braces, or teeth.
Alternate treatment of stomatitis mainly involves prevention of the problem. Patients with such dental appliances as dentures should visit their dentist on a regular basis. Patients with systemic diseases or chronic medical problems need to ask their health care provider what types of oral problems they can expect from their particular disease. These patients must also contact their medical clinic at the first sign of problems. Common sense needs to be exercised when consuming hot foods or drinks. Use of tobacco products should be discouraged. Alcohol should be used in moderation. Mouthwashes and toothpastes known to the patient to cause problems should be avoided.
Botanical medicine can assist in resolving stomatitis. One herb, calendula (Calendula officinalis), in tincture form (an alcohol-based herbal extract) and diluted for a mouth rinse, can be quite effective in treating aphthous stomatitis and other manifestations of stomatitis.
More recently, a group of researchers in Brazil have reported that an extract made from the leaves of Trichilia glabra, a plant found in South America, is effective in killing several viruses that cause stomatitis.
The prognosis for the resolution of stomatitis is based on the cause of the problem. Many local factors can be modified, treated, or avoided. Infectious causes of stomatitis can usually be managed with medication, or, if the problem is being caused by a certain drug, by changing the offending agent.
Stomatitis caused by local irritants can be prevented by good oral hygiene, regular dental checkups, and good dietary habits. Problems with stomatitis caused by systemic disease can be minimized by good oral hygiene and closely following the medical therapy prescribed by the patient's health care provider.
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Cella, M., D. A. Riva, F. C. Coulombie, and S. E. Mersich. "Virucidal Activity Presence in Trichilia glabra Leaves." Revista Argentina de microbiologia 36 (July-September 2004): 136-138.
Miller, C. S., L. L. Cunningham, J. E. Lindroth, and S. A. Avdiushko. "The Efficacy of Valacyclovir in Preventing Recurrent Herpes Simplex Virus Infections Associated with Dental Procedures." Journal of the American Dental Association 135 (September 2004): 1311-1318.
Mirowski, Ginat W., DMD, MD, and Christy L. Nebesio. "Aphthous Stomatitis." eMedicine September 24, 2004. http://www.emedicine.com/derm/topic486.htm.
Sciubba, James J., DMD, PhD. "Denture Stomatitis." eMedicine June 11, 2002. http://www.emedicine.com/derm/topic642.htm.
Shulman, J. D., M. M. Beach, and F. Rivera-Hidalgo. "The Prevalence of Oral Mucosal Lesions in U.S. Adults: Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–1994." Journal of the American Dental Association 135 (September 2004): 1279-1286.
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American Dental Association. 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. (312) 440-2500. http://www.ada.org.
American Medical Association. 515 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60612. (312) 464-5000. http://www.ama-assn.org.
— A specific type of stomatitis presenting with shallow, painful ulcers. Also known as canker sores
— Inflammation of the lining of the mouth, gums, or tongue.
— A form of stomatitis caused by Candida
fungi and characterized by cream-colored or bluish patches on the tongue, mouth, or pharynx.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
stomatitis [sto″mah-ti´tis] (pl. stomati´tides)
inflammation of the mucosa of the mouth; it may be caused by any of numerous diseases of the mouth or it may accompany another disease. Both gingivitis
are forms of stomatitis.
. The causes of stomatitis vary widely, from a mild local irritant to a vitamin deficiency or infection by a possibly dangerous disease-producing organism. Inflammation may arise from actual injury to the inside of the mouth, as from cheek-biting, jagged teeth, tartar accumulations, and badly fitting dentures. Irritating substances, including alcohol, and tobacco, may also cause stomatitis. Other causes are infectious bacteria, such as streptococci and gonococci or those causing necrotizing ulcerative stomatitis
, and tuberculosis
; the fungus causing thrush
; or the viruses causing herpes simplex
. Extreme vitamin deficiencies can result in mouth inflammation, as can certain blood disorders. Poisoning with heavy metals, such as lead
, can also cause stomatitis.
. There is generally swelling and redness of the tissues of the mouth, which may become quite sore, particularly during eating. The mouth may have an unpleasant odor. In some types of stomatitis the mouth becomes dry, but in others there is excessive salivation. Ulcerations may appear, and, in extreme cases, gangrene (gangrenous stomatitis).
Other forms of stomatitis may occasionally cause more severe symptoms, including chills, fever, and headache. Sometimes bleeding or white patches in the mouth can be seen. In thrush
, the symptoms themselves may be slight (white spots in the mouth resembling milk curds) but the disease may give rise to serious infections elsewhere in the body. In some cases, stomatitis causes inflammation of the parotid glands.
Stomatitis resulting from certain diseases presents special identifying symptoms. Syphilitic stomatitis
produces painful ulcers in the mouth; in scarlet fever the tongue first has a strawberry color, which then deepens to a raspberry hue; in measles, Koplik's spots
Treatment and Prevention
. The treatment varies according to the cause. When the inflammation is caused by anemia, vitamin deficiency, or any infection of the body, both the underlying disease and the stomatitis are treated. Antibiotics often are effective against the infection and prevent its spreading to the parotid glands. Severe stomatitis can be a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation to the head and neck as treatment for cancer. Measures to alleviate the inflammation and promote healing include increasing fluid intake and using artificial saliva to minimize dryness and help buffer acidity in the mouth, avoiding liquids and foods that are chemically irritating or extremely hot, and frequent and consistent mouth care
With proper care, many cases of stomatitis can be prevented. Cleanliness is essential, especially of the mouth, teeth, dentures, and feeding utensils. Infants may acquire mouth infection from the mother's oral flora, dirty bottles, or the mother's nipples. In the case of a prolonged fever or of any severe general illness, dryness of the mouth should be avoided by ingestion of increased amounts of fluids.
superficial erosions and fissuring at the angles of the mouth; it may occur in riboflavin
deficiency and in pellagra
or result from overclosure of the jaws in denture wearers. Called also perlèche
inflammation of the oral mucosa seen in some patients with new dentures or with old, ill-fitting ones, caused by Candida albicans
; characterized by redness, swelling, and pain of mucosa that is in contact with the denture. Called also chronic atrophic candidiasis
and denture sore mouth
herpetic stomatitis herpes simplex involving the oral mucosa and lips, characterized by the formation of yellowish vesicles that rupture and produce ragged painful ulcers covered by a gray membrane and surrounded by an erythematous halo.
stomatitis medicamento´sa stomatitis due to an allergic reaction to drugs ingested, absorbed through the skin or mucosa, or given by hypodermic injection. Principal symptoms include vesicles, erosion, ulcers, erythema, purpura, angioedema, burning, and itching.
recurrent aphthous stomatitis
a recurrent disease of unknown etiology, characterized by one or more small round or oval ulcer(s) on the oral mucosa, covered by a grayish fibrinous exudate and surrounded by a bright red halo. The lesions usually persist for 7 to 14 days and then heal without scarring. Called also aphthae
, aphthous stomatitis
, and canker sore
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
stomatitis (sto-ma-tit'is) [ stomato- + -itis]
STOMATITIS: As caused by herpes simplex virus
Inflammation of the mouth (including the lips, tongue, and mucous membranes). See: illustration
Stomatitis may be associated with viral infections, chemical irritation, radiation therapy, mouth breathing, paralysis of nerves supplying the oral area, chemotherapy that damages or destroys the mucous membranes, adverse reactions to other medicines, or acute sun damage to the lips. The nasal and oral mucosa are esp. vulnerable to trauma from dental appliances, nasal cannula, nasotracheal tubes, or catheters administering nutrients. These areas may also be damaged during surgery when an endotracheal tube is in place.
Symptoms include oral pain, esp. when eating or drinking, bad breath, or difficulty in swallowing. Findings include oral ulcers, friability of the mucous membranes, swollen cervical lymph nodes, and sometimes fever.
Treatment depends on the cause but is often symptomatic. The mucous membranes should be kept moist and clear of tenacious secretions. Care of the teeth and gingival tissues should be comprehensive and include flossing. The pain of stomatitis may be alleviated by systemic analgesics or application of anesthetic preparations to painful lesions. It is important for patients with dentures to clean their dentures thoroughly. Dentures should be removed from unconscious or stuporous patient. See: toothbrushing
aphthous stomatitisAphthous ulcer.
Stomatitis resulting from intentional or accidental exposure to corrosive substances.
Synonym: chronic atrophic candidiasis
Stomatitis on the oral mucosa covered by full or partial dentures, most commonly seen on the palate although the inflammation may also be seen overlying the mandible.
Although most patients are asymptomatic (the finding is noticed by dental professionals during oral examination, rather than by the patient), the condition should be treated to prevent progression to more serious oral diseases. Removal of plaque from dentures (as by brushing them carefully), removal of dentures at night, and sanitizing dentures regularly (as with an overnight soak in a chlorhexidine solution) all prevent the condition from occurring. Antifungal medications are used if fungi are isolated on culture swabs.
Stomatitis caused by infection with Corynebacterium diphtheriae. See: diphtheria
Stomatitis seen with primary infection with herpes simplex virus.
major aphthous stomatitis
Stomatitis in which large recurring or migrating painful ulcers appear within the oral cavity (on the gingiva and soft palate) and sometimes on the lips.
Stomatitis accompanied by the formation of a false or adventitious membrane.
Stomatitiss seen in those exposed to elemental mercury or mercury vapors.
nicotine stomatitis, stomatitis nicotina
Fissuring and the formation of hyperkeratotic papules on the palate, usually caused by habitual pipe smoking. It is a form of precancer.
Stomatitis occurring in patches on the mucous membranes.
Stomatitis resulting from mechanical injury as from ill-fitting dentures, sharp jagged teeth, or biting the cheek.
ulcerative stomatitisNecrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
vesicular stomatitisAphthous ulcer.
Vincent stomatitisNecrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
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