Suspicious changes in your mouth
It is important to check your mouth regularly for any issues that seem out of normal. Many of the changes you may notice are temporary, and don't require medical or dental treatment. However, others may be an indication of more serious concerns that require medical or dental attention. While few require a trip to an emergency department or urgent care facility, it is important to be on the lookout for things that can be a true medical emergency.
Examples of things to look for include:
- Sores or swelling of your face, lips, cheeks, gums (gingiva), tongue, or throat (which may or may not be painful).
- Pain or numbness anywhere in or around the mouth.
- Red or white spots or rashes on your lips, cheeks, tongue or gums.
- Bumps on your cheeks or tongue.
- Red, puffy or bleeding gums.
- Discoloration, dryness, stickiness, or "fuzziness" on your tongue, lips, or mucous membranes.
- Blue-grey "stains" on your cheeks or gums after you get a filling .
- Difficulty talking, breathing, or eating.
- Increased mucous or thicker saliva.
There are many reasons you may notice a change in or around your mouth. Some common causes include:
- Traumatic injuries.
- Viral or bacterial infections.
- Your oral habits.
- Pregnancy .
- Certain medications .
- Allergies and contact dermatitis.
- Abscesses .
- Canker or cold sores.
- Gingivitis , tooth decay , or periodontal disease (periodontitis).
- Chipped, cracked or broken teeth.
- Poorly fitting dentures or bridges (fixed partial denture).
- Smoking, vaping , or using smokeless tobacco .
- Dry mouth (xerostomia).
- Cancer treatment, including radiation, chemotherapy, and stem cell therapy.
- Oral cancer .
- Medical conditions such as diabetes , heart disease, or immune system disorders.
- Eating disorders and nutritional deficiencies.
What to do
- If you are noticing rapid progression of changes in your mouth, get immediate medical attention or call 911 for a more rapid response.
- If the symptoms are tolerable, contact your physician or dentist to specifically describe your concern. Your discussion will help the dentist to determine if an urgent appointment is necessary.