The mouth is our connection to the outside world. He is thus exposed to a variety of influences, such as hot food, hard food ingredients or microorganisms. To meet the special requirements, the oral cavity is completely lined with mucous membrane. The oral mucosa is well supplied with blood, the cells divide quickly and frequently. For this reason, wounds in the mouth also heal much faster than in other parts of the body. Nevertheless, various stimuli can cause inflammatory changes in the oral mucosa, stomatitis. Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and inflammatory diseases of the periodontium (periodontitis) are excluded.
Viruses and bacteria as a trigger of stomatitis
The causes of stomatitis are very diverse. Most infections with bacteria, viruses or yeasts are responsible, especially the yeast fungus Candida albicans, which leads to the oral thrush. Characteristic of a stomatitis is a whitish coating on the oral mucosa.
Often there is an underlying disease that leads to the weakening of the immune system and thus makes infection possible. Bacteria also like to settle if the oral mucosa is damaged or the general condition is weakened.
In the case of viruses, the first contact with the herpes simplex virus leads to a very painful inflammation of the oral mucosa, the doctors then speak of a gingivastomatitis herpetica or mouth blight (stomatitis aphthosa). In the course of such an infection, which usually occurs in children, there are small, painful blisters throughout the oral cavity that itch, burn or contract, accompanied by heavy salivation.
Other causes of stomatitis
In addition to the infections, a whole range of other causes of inflammation of the oral mucosa exist:
- allergic reactions to, for example, certain foods, denture material, oral hygiene products, medicines; Stomatitis medicamentosa is the hypersensitivity reaction to drugs in the mouth (often penicillins)
- Plaque, tartar, tooth decay
- badly fitting dentures or braces
- Burns from too hot food or drinks
- Vitamin deficiency (vitamins A, B and C), iron or folic acid deficiency
- Poisoning and damage (nicotine, alcohol, metals)
- dry oral mucosa (especially in old age)
- Irritation and injuries (bite injury during chewing, hard toothbrush)
- Hormone fluctuations (puberty, pregnancy, menopause)
Stomatitis also occurs as a concomitant disease in skin, metabolic and blood diseases and as a side effect of cancer chemotherapy.
Risk groups of stomatitis
Inflammation of the oral mucosa (stomatitis) is particularly common in people with a weakened general condition and lack of oral hygiene. Stomatitis is also endangered by people who are not allowed to eat food and older people with dentures.
With increasing age, the oral mucous membranes are subject to greater risks. This reduces the immune system and the oral mucosa becomes drier. This eliminates saliva, which plays an important role in the self-cleaning of the oral cavity and teeth: The salivary glands produce up to one and a half liters of fluid per day, the substances contained therein for a neutral pH and provide a hostile environment for germs. In addition, dentures and prostheses can cause problems.
Symptoms of stomatitis
Possible symptoms of stomatitis are listed below:
- Redness, swelling, burning and pain, especially in hot, sour or spicy foods, are among the typical symptoms.
- Sometimes there are plaque deposits and bad breath occurs when there is stomatitis.
- Also increased salivation (or vice versa dry mucous membranes) and possibly bleeding are unpleasant side effects of stomatitis.
- In general, high fever and swollen cervical lymph nodes appear as general symptoms in stomatitis.
- There may also be aphthous ulcers, white, painful lesions of the oral mucosa surrounded by a red halo and appearing alone or in groups.