Pain or Swelling in the Mouth

Be it a burning sensation, bleeding gums, or sensitivity, most people will experience pain in their mouth during their life. Swelling and pain can occur throughout the mouth including the gums, tongue, roof of the mouth (palate), and inside of cheeks. Anyone experiencing severe mouth pain, should consult a dentist as soon as possible.

Understanding the underlying cause of slight discomfort or severe pain can help patients seek appropriate treatment. This article will highlight some of the more common causes of pain and swelling in the mouth.

Mouth Sores

There are various reasons sores can develop in the mouth. One of the more common causes are canker sores. Small ulcers that develop on the tongue, roof of the mouth, and inside of the cheeks, canker sores appear as white lesions with red borders. Prior to being visible, canker sores often cause burning and tingling sensations.

While canker sores generally heal on their own, patients should consult their dentist if pain persists. A dentist can prescribe antibiotics, corticosteroids, or antimicrobial mouth rinses to aid healing. The dentist can also ensure the mouth sores are not indicative of oral cancer.

Mouth or Tooth Trauma

Whether a sports injury or a slip-and-fall, it is quite easy to suffer trauma to the mouth that leads to swelling and overwhelming pain. Burning the tongue, cracking a tooth, or biting a lip are all examples of injuries that based on the extent of damage, may require a dentist for treatment.
Sensitivity to cold and hot are common in cases of a cracked tooth and the pain may be more noticeable when biting or chewing. If the damage is minor, it could be corrected with dental bonding but in cases where a tooth is severely damaged, dentures, bridges, or dental implants may be needed to repair the tooth.

Tooth Decay or Cavities

Patients suffering from throbbing or shooting pain with no obvious cause, may have tooth decay. Tenderness when eating and/or sensitivity to cold and hot could also signal a cavity that needs to be addressed. Prompt treatment of a cavity can help save the affected tooth. If left to progress, severe decay could require a root canal treatment or eventual loss of the tooth.

Dry Mouth

Saliva has many crucial roles in the mouth including rinsing bacteria and debris off the teeth and preventing acid erosion. A chronic condition where the salivary glands fail to maintain moisture inside the mouth, dry mouth can make the mouth feel parched and lead to cracked lips, cavities, swelling on the palate, mouth sores, bad breath, and a rough tongue.

Drinking more water could relieve minor dry mouth cases but severe cases, often require intervention from a dentist. A dentist can identify what is causing the dry mouth and could prescribe medications or artificial saliva to boost saliva production.

Gum Disease

Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease and is caused by the buildup of plaque on the gums and teeth. Left untreated, plaque wears away the structures of the mouth leading to bleeding and swollen gums. Proper dental care and cleaning can reverse gingivitis but if not addressed, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more advanced gum disease. Periodontitis often leads to gum erosion, loose teeth, and bone loss.

Puffy & Bleeding Gums