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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
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
The use of alcohol and
tobacco can cause many mouth problems. Your chances of
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
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
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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:
Changes in your diet
can also help if you have a sore or ulcer inside your mouth, such as a
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.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
Many mouth problems can be prevented. Try
some of the following home prevention measures to prevent:
Tobacco can cause mouth problems. Do not smoke or use
other tobacco products. For more information, see the topic
Avoid alcohol, which can
cause a dry mouth and bad breath and can increase your risk of canker sores.
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:
July 20, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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