Do you have stomatitis? Would you know if you did? Although it may sound like it refers to your stomach, stomat is actually Greek for “mouth.” Stomatitis is a catch-all term for a sore or inflamed mouth. It can occur anywhere in your mouth including on your lips, tongue, inner cheeks, your hard or soft palate, and your gingival tissue (gums). While not dangerous or life-threatening, Stomatitis can be uncomfortable and can make it difficult to eat, drink, talk, and sleep. There are several different types of Stomatitis including cold sores, canker sores, general irritations, etc. Is each treated differently? Actually, treatments for Stomatitis do vary. Stomatitis can be very disruptive by making it difficult to talk, eat, drink, and even sleep.  Read on to learn more about Stomatitis in today’s blog.

Types of Irritation

There are different types of stomatitis including:

Cold sores: Cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex type 1. Once you’ve been infected with the herpes virus, it lies dormant in the body and can be reactivated by stress, fever, trauma, hormonal changes, and exposure to sunlight. Cold sores are contagious from when the blister ruptures to when it is completely healed.

Canker sore: The cause of canker sores is unknown  but certain medications, trauma to the mouth, poor nutrition, stress, bacteria or viruses, lack of sleep, sudden weight loss, and certain foods including citrus fruits, coffee, chocolate, and cheese may contribute to their development. Cold, flu, hormonal changes, or low levels of vitamin B12 or folate may also cause canker sores. Canker sores are not contagious.

Mouth irritation: Irritation of the mouth due to biting your lip, cheek, or tongue; wearing braces; chewing tobacco; a burn from hot food or beverage; certain medications, radiation therapy; or certain autoimmune diseases may all be causes of stomatitis.


The good news about Stomatitis is that it usually lasts only about two weeks. You may be able to treat it if the cause can be determined. However, if there are no treatments you can still relieve the symptoms. Generally the following steps can be taken:

  • Avoid hot foods and beverages, spicy, salty, and acidic foods.
  • If your mouth burns, suck on ice, popsicles, or gargle with cool water.
  • Take ibuprofen or Tylenol to relieve pain.

Other treatments for stomatitis

Treatment for canker sores is meant to relieve discomfort and avoid infection. The following can be helpful for cold sores and canker sores:

  • Drinking water
  • Rinsing with salt water
  • Using a topical anesthetic such as xylocaine or lidocaine
  • Using a topical corticosteroid such as triamcinolone for inside the lip or on the gums
  • Using Campho-Phenique or Blistex

If the stomatitis sores are severe, treatments may include:

  • An anti-inflammatory such as Aphthasol
  • Lidex gel
  • Rinsing with Peridex mouthwash

Learn more about stomatitis

Aside from providing dependable general and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is a former adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.