What Causes oral Pain and What Can You Do
woman with oral pain

What Causes oral Pain and What Can You Do

Are you experiencing oral pain when you chew? Do you feel some burning sensation in the mouth or have a swollen tongue? These oral issues cause discomfort that reduces the quality of life. But what causes them?

Often, oral pain may occur due to soreness, injuries, or different health conditions. It’s, therefore, crucial to understand the common causes of the pain for a personalized treatment option.

Causes of Mouth Pain

So, why does my mouth hurt? Oral pain may occur

  • on the tongue,
  • gums,
  • within the cheeks, or
  • at the back or roof of the mouth.

Various factors lead to pain in the mouth, depending on the area it affects. The common causes of mouth pain include:


Accidental falls and tripping may directly injure your mouth or cause you to bite the tongue, cheeks, or other parts. Also, if you try to eat food that’s too hot, you may burn your tongue or the hard palate. All these injuries may result in pain in roof of mouth. Also, oral tenderness may create discomfort when you try to chew or speak.

Canker sores

Canker sores are a form of ulcers that develop on the cheeks, soft palate, or around the tongue leading to mouth pain.

These sores are painful white lesions that create red borders, and the common causes are

  • viral infections,
  • stress,
  • hormonal changes,
  • food sensitivity, and
  • vitamin deficiency.

Dry mouth

The salivary glands secrete saliva that keeps the mouth moist. If these glands fail to produce adequate saliva, you will experience a dry mouth. Other factors that may lead to a dry mouth include

  • Dehydration,
  • using some medication, and
  • chronic health issues like diabetes.

The symptoms of dry mouth are sores and a rough tongue. Because of these oral issues, you may feel a burning sensation and parchedness.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

TMJ is a condition that causes mouth pain due to tenderness and inflammation of the jaw. It may cause tooth pain around the affected area leading to difficulty chewing.

Herpes simplex virus (HSV)

HSV develops into cold sores, especially on the lips leading to oral pain. However, the virus may cause lesions to form on the throat, gums, and tongue. The lesions are painful and have a burning sensation that may develop into

  • a sore throat,
  • a fever,
  • muscle aches, or
  • swollen lymph nodes.

Other viral, fungal, and bacterial infections that may have the same symptoms include:

  • Shingles,
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease,
  • HIV,
  • Oral thrush,
  • Chickenpox,
  • Oral lichen planus,
  • Squamous papilloma,
  • Syphilis,
  • Oral cancer, and
  • Infectious mononucleosis.

Causes of Pain on or Under the Tongue

Pain on or under the tongue may occur due to infections like

  • HSV,
  • canker sores,
  • oral thrush,
  • oral lichen planus,
  • oral cancer, and
  • squamous papilloma.

The burning mouth syndrome, geographic tongue, salivary gland stones, and neuralgia also affect the tongue.

If you experience nutritional deficiencies in folate, iron, and vitamin B-12, then you are likely to have a sore tongue.

Causes of Painful Gums

Pain in the gums occurs due to sores and oral diseases like oral lichen planus. Others common causes are:

Dental abscess

Pockets of pus may occur around your teeth due to bacterial infections, hence, leading to a dental abscess. Temperature fluctuations and chewing cause pain around the infected tooth. Facial swellings and fevers are some of the symptoms of dental abscess.

Improper dental hygiene

If you have a sensitive mouth, brushing or flossing the teeth roughly may cause the gums to ache. Also, you may experience gum irritation due to the aggressive handling of teeth. So, the American Dental Association advises gentle hygiene care. Try using a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid gum injuries.

Hormonal fluctuations

In various growth and development stages like puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, you may experience hormonal changes. The imbalance in hormones may irritate the gums and cause other dental issues.

Gum disease

As the name goes, gum disease occurs when the gums become tender and swell due to the accumulation of plaques. Your lifestyle choices like smoking may also cause gum disease.

Gingivitis occurs during the early stages, and if left untreated, it may develop into periodontitis. With these conditions, you may experience gum bleeding after flossing or brushing the teeth. In severe cases, gum disease may cause you to lose some teeth.

What Can You Do When You Experience Oral Pain?

When you experience severe oral pain, you should consult a dentist for a thorough check and examination. However, there are several home remedies you can try to relieve pain and discomfort.

Maintain proper oral hygiene

When brushing or flossing the teeth, consider using a toothbrush with soft bristles for gentle care. This practice will avoid triggering oral pain due to injured and bleeding gums.

Stop smoking

If you smoke cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products, try avoiding them to stop mouth pain for better oral health.

Avoid harsh foods

Eating foods rich in acids, salt, or spices may cause mouth pain,
irritation around the tongue, or gums. So, avoiding these harsh foods altogether may be more helpful.

Consume a lot of fluids

If you often have a dry mouth, then try increasing the fluids you take daily to reduce or stop oral pain.

Use a cold compression

Whenever you experience a painful oral sensation, irritation, or swelling, try applying ice for relief.

Rinse your mouth with salty water

If you have canker sores or other infection-causing mouth pain, consider rinsing with salty water for relief. Take a half-full cup of warm water and add about a tablespoon of salt for efficacy. Then swirl the water around the mouth for a few seconds before spitting.

Use over-the-counter (OTC) medication

When you experience mouth pain, you may want to use OTC medications with hydrogen peroxide or benzocaine for relief. Drugs like Ibuprofen and acetaminophen will also help in reducing inflammation and alleviating oral pain.

For children, however, consulting a doctor for proper treatment is safer. Also, for adults, if the pain or soreness exceeds, and you can’t eat or drink well, be sure to check with the dentist.

Get in Touch With Us Now!

Mouth pain has varying causes that often affect the gums, tongue, palate, or the cheek area. The above home remedies are effective at relieving mild aches and swelling. OTC drugs and swirling warm, salty water are some of the most effective treatment options. However, if the pain or swelling persists, seek advice from a certified dentist.

Are you looking for a reliable Los Angeles Dentist? Contact Bruce Vafa DDS. of Smile Angels of Beverly Hills. He is a certified mouth pain specialist with the best oral care technologies.

Contact us now for a consultation!

Skip to content