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Mouth Problems, Noninjury (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

Mouth problems are common and can be very annoying. But most mouth problems are minor and will clear up with home treatment and time. Simple home treatment measures, such as increasing your fluid intake to prevent dehydration and using a humidifier inside your home, can relieve many mouth problems. Try home treatment when you have one of the following mouth problems:

  • Chapped lips. Avoid licking or biting your lips. Protect your lips with lipstick or a lip balm, such as a water-based product. If your lips are severely chapped, build a barrier by applying petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, for a short time and then switch to a water-based product. Avoid sun or wind exposure. Using a humidifier in your home may help.
  • A dry mouth. Avoid caffeinated beverages, tobacco, and alcohol, all of which increase dryness in your mouth.
  • Bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, a black or coated tongue, or "hairy tongue." You can freshen your breath by brushing your teeth, tongue, roof of your mouth, and gums. Sometimes just rinsing your mouth with fresh water will freshen your breath and make your mouth taste better.

Sore or ulcer inside your mouth

Changes in your diet can also help if you have a sore or ulcer inside your mouth, such as a canker sore.

  • Drink cold liquids, such as water or iced tea, or eat flavored ice pops or frozen juices. Use a straw to keep the liquid from coming in contact with your mouth sore.
  • Eat soft, bland foods that are easy to swallow, such as ice cream, custard, applesauce, cottage cheese, macaroni and cheese, soft-cooked eggs, yogurt, or cream soups.
  • Cut foods into small pieces, or grind, mash, blend, or puree foods.
  • Avoid coffee, chocolate, spicy and salty foods, citrus fruits, nuts, seeds, and tomatoes.

Pain relief

  • If you have a painful sore on the outside of your lip, apply ice to the area when you first feel a sore coming on (tingling or prickly feeling at the site). This may help reduce the pain and dry out the sore. Apply the ice directly to the sore—5 minutes on, 10 minutes off—repeating as desired.
  • Rinse with an antacid, such as Maalox or Mylanta, or dab it on your sores with a cotton swab.
  • Avoid very hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks if they increase your pain.
  • Apply petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to ease the cracking and dryness of a lip sore.
  • Use a lip protector, such as Blistex or Campho-Phenique, to ease the pain. Don't share your lip protector with others, because cold sores are contagious.
  • Puncture a vitamin E capsule and squeeze the oil onto the sore. This soothes inflammation and protects the sore.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Signs of dehydration develop, such as being thirstier than usual and having darker urine than usual.
  • Signs of infection develop.
  • Symptoms persist or become more severe or frequent.
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