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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Change in Texture of My Mouth

11/23/2010

Question:

A few months ago, I noticed that the texture of the lining around the inside of my mouth was slightly swollen and now the texture is constantly slightly rough. A few days ago the upper palate of my mouth began swelling slightly after eating. Both conditions seem to improve by drinking water, but never completely go away. There is no color change and visual swelling is not detected. I can feel the swelling with my tongue. Could this be food sensitivity or a condition that might need treatment?

Answer:

Most likely what you are describing is a mucosal hypersensitivity reaction. In your case it seems a minor disturbance since you can treat the symptoms by rinsing with water.

What probably is occurring is a localized reaction to something. You are having a minor inflammatory response to an allergen, and subsequent edema and possible sloughing of the oral mucosal lining. Your tongue is a very perceptive, and detects the changes as roughness of the otherwise super slick surface.

There are a number of food stuffs and chemicals that can cause this type of reaction. Have you changed your toothpaste or mouth wash?

Do you have a new dental appliance or new restorations?

These changes can also be related to a hypersensitivity response (analogous to poison ivy or allergy to wool on the skin). Has your salivary flow decreased? Sometime the perception of oral roughness and "swelling" can be related to a decrease in salivary flow (Xerostomia).

The mucosal changes can range from slight edema (swelling) to redness and vesicle formation to ulceration.

Based upon the fact that rinsing with water seems to help, may indicate the topical nature of what is occurring. I know some persons that eat peanuts, or blue veined cheeses exhibit a similar response. Cinnamon and cinnamon flavored mouth rinses and toothpaste can also illicit this response and in some cases with chronic irritation it resembles a mucosal disease referred to as a lichenoid drug reaction.

My advice is if it continues, or the symptoms worsen, you need to have it evaluated by your dentist or primary care provider.

However, as you have previously mentioned, rinsing helps. So now you need to determine the cause (etiology) or specific agents that may be causing this.

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Response by:

Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University