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Mouth Problems

by in Symptom Checker A-Z January 13, 2014

See complete list of symptom flow charts

**The following is a general guideline from the American Medical Association. The flowchart below allows you to easily track your symptoms and come to a possible diagnosis. Be sure to consult with you doctor if you feel you have a serious medical problem.

I did not produce this chart myself, so any treatment options on this page are completely conventional.The following flowchart was reproduced with permission.

SYMPTOMS DIAGNOSIS SELF-CARE
Begin Here
1. Is the person an infant or child? Yes See “Mouth Problems in Infants and Children.”
No
2. Do you have pain in your mouth? Yes Go to Question 6.*
No
3. Do you have painless white or gray sores that may have a hard, raised coating on the tongue or the inside of the cheeks? Yes This lesion may be a precancerous LEUKOPLAKIA, more common in those who use tobacco. See your doctor. Stop smoking or using other tobacco products to help prevent oral cancers. See your dentist if sharp or rough teeth or dental work are causing irritation.
No
4. Do you have a painless lesion, growth or lump on the lip or face? Yes This may be SQUAMOUS CELL SKIN CANCER. See your doctor. When there is any change in the color, size, texture or appearance of the skin, or if there is pain, itching or bleeding from a lesion, lump or mole, see your doctor.
No
5. Do you have a painless, fluid-filled sac that may be bluish in color on the inner lips, gums, palate or under the tongue? Yes This may be a MUCOCELE, a harmless cyst that may be caused by sucking mouth tissue between the teeth. These cysts usually go away on their own. To avoid infection, only a doctor should open these cysts.
No
*6. Do you have pain or swelling under your tongue or in your cheek, especially while eating or drinking? Yes This may be a blockage in a salivary duct, possibly caused by a SALIVARY DUCT STONE. See your doctor.
No
7. Do you have small open and painful sores that are white or yellowish with a red border on the inner lips or cheek, gums or tongue? Yes These may be CANKER SORES. They may be caused by viral infections. Canker sores usually heal on their own. To relieve discomfort, rinse with salt water or diluted hydrogen peroxide, or apply an over-the-counter oral gel. You may also use an analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain. See your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.
No
8. Do you have a sore that is red and crusted on your lip or on the outer edge of your lips? Yes This may be a COLD SORE, caused by a type of HERPES VIRUS. Cold sores usually go away on their own. Analgesics, such as acetaminophen, and cold sore ointments can help relieve the discomfort.
No
9. Do you have a red, swollen tongue or lips? Yes This may be an ALLERGIC REACTION to a medicine or another ALLERGEN. URGENT
See your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room right away if you have any trouble breathing. An antihistamine may help relieve other allergy symptoms.
No
10. Do you wear dentures that seem to rub your gums or irritate your mouth? Yes MISFITTING DENTURES can cause mouth pain. See your dentist.
No
11. Do you have red and swollen gums that may bleed when you brush or floss? Yes You may have GUM DISEASE such as GINGIVITIS or PERIODONTITIS, or a CAVITY, usually caused by poor ORAL HYGIENE. See your dentist. Good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups, and eating a healthy diet can help prevent gum diseases.
No
12. Do you have small, painful bumps on your tongue? Yes These bumps are probably INFLAMED PAPILLAE (where the taste buds are) due to an injury from a burn caused by hot food or drink, or a self-inflicted bite. The inflammation and bump will usually go away on its own. Avoid hot, spicy and acidic foods. Use an analgesic, such acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve pain.
No
13. Do you have creamy white patches on the tongue, inner cheek or gums that are painful when scraped? Yes This may be CANDIDIASIS (ORAL THRUSH) caused by a fungus growing out of control. This condition usually goes away on its own. Eat unsweetened yogurt with live cultures to restore the natural balance of bacteria in your body. Gargle with salt water or use analgesics, such as acetaminophen, to relieve discomfort. If your symptoms get worse or don’t improve, see your doctor. He or she may prescribe an antifungal medicine.
No
14. Do you have raised patches of white lines or bumps that may also include red open sores on the inside of your cheeks or sides of the tongue? Yes You may have ORAL LICHEN PLANUS, an inflammatory condition that may have many causes. This condition may go away without treatment. Practice good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing, don’t eat foods that irritate your mouth, limit alcohol consumption, and stop smoking. See your doctor if your symptoms get worse or don’t improve.
No
15. Do you have a burning sensation in your mouth that may involve several areas? Yes You may have BURNING MOUTH SYNDROME (BMS). See your doctor. Treatment often depends on underlying causes. Stop smoking or using other tobacco products. Their use may be the cause or may make the problem worse.
No
16. Do you have cracking or open sores in the corners of your mouth? Yes These tender sores may result from a vitamin deficiency or from chapped lips. Use a soothing ointment on these cracked areas. Take riboflavin and/or a multivitamin if you think your diet isn’t adequate. See your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.
No
See your doctor if you have a mouth or lip sore that doesn’t heal. This may be a sign of oral cancer. For more information, please talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away.

 

See complete list of symptom flow charts

This tool has been reviewed by doctors and is for general educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice. The information in this tool should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health. Always consult your family doctor with questions about your individual condition(s) and/or circumstances.

Source: American Medical Association (2008-04-21). American Medical Association Family Medical Guide (AMA Family Medical Guide) (Kindle Locations 6690-6691). Turner Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.

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