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If the roof of your mouth (palate) is sore, it can make eating and drinking uncomfortable and difficult. You may also have problems speaking normally.
Several things can cause a sore palate, including very hot coffee, infections, allergies, and injuries. In most cases, it's not a serious condition and typically goes away by itself. However, if the pain is severe or lasts more than a few days, contact a medical professional.
The symptoms of a sore palate vary depending on the cause. You might experience:
Here are four potential causes of palate pain:
The roof of your mouth is a delicate and sensitive area that can burn easily. Eating or drinking something too hot can cause a burn.
Burn pain is usually immediate and can be severe. It typically goes away within 3 to 7 days without treatment and commonly heals by itself.1
Cool or frozen foods and drinks such as ice pops, ice cream, and yogurts may ease discomfort from a mouth burn. It’s wise to avoid crunchy, hot, or spicy foods until the burn heals.
Your dentist can also recommend mouth rinses that promote healing.
Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that can develop on the hard palate or anywhere on the soft tissues in the mouth. They’re usually white or yellow with a red border and can make eating and drinking uncomfortable.
The lesions may resemble cold sores but don’t occur on the surface of lips and are not contagious.
Doctors are unsure why some people experience canker sores. It may be a combination of factors, including a vitamin B-12 deficiency, stress, hormonal shifts, infections, or minor injuries. Doctors also link them to immune system conditions.
Canker sores are rarely serious. However, more severe symptoms can still arise in some cases.2
There are three different types of canker sores:
Some common causes of canker sores include:
Canker sores may also occur because of certain conditions and diseases, such as:
Treatment may include:
A doctor may recommend dietary changes or specific vitamins or supplements if nutritional deficiencies cause a canker sore.
The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores. If the roof of your mouth hurts and you can see blister patches, they could be cold sores. These mouth sores usually appear on the lips but can also develop on the hard palate.
Most people contract the virus as children, but the sores don’t always appear immediately. Instead, the virus can lie dormant for years until a trigger such as stress, illness, or a weakened immune system causes an outbreak.4
Some common causes of fever blisters include:
Certain conditions and diseases can also trigger cold sores, such as:
A cold sore usually passes through 3 stages:
It’s impossible to cure the herpes simplex virus that causes mouth sores. Once someone has the virus, it stays in their body forever.
The cold sore blisters usually heal on their own within 14 days. During healing, drinking cool drinks and eating frozen foods like ice cream may ease discomfort.4
If you develop cold sores more than 9 times a year or are at high risk of serious complications, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication for you to take regularly.
Although the causes of a sore palate are typically harmless, some, such as oral cancer, are more serious. Mouth cancer causes cells to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues. It can develop on the tongue, gums, palate, or anywhere else in the mouth.
Identifying mouth cancer early is the key to successful treatment. Therefore, if your palate is still sore after 10 days, see your doctor or dentist for an evaluation.5
Treatment for oral cancer may depend on your overall health and the location and stage of cancer. Options include:
Most causes of a sore palate are not serious and resolve within about 10 days. However, if the roof of your mouth still hurts after this time, make an appointment with your doctor.7
They can perform a physical assessment and take a medical history to help diagnose your condition. Then, they can recommend treatment or refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for further evaluation.
If the roof of your mouth is sore, you can do several things to ease discomfort:
Applying coconut oil may also help. Research shows that this natural oil has antimicrobial abilities. As a result, it may prevent a bacterial infection. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce redness and pain.8
Your dentist or doctor may also prescribe:
There are some things you can do to help prevent a sore roof of the mouth, including:
If you have a sore palate, certain signs signify it’s time to seek medical attention urgently. They include:
See your dentist if you notice any change in your mouth, as early diagnosis and treatment can increase your chances of a cure.
If you have a weakened immune system because of HIV or another reason, seek professional medical help if you develop any mouth sores.
Additionally, if you’re in considerable pain, generally feel unwell, or have trouble eating, see a doctor as soon as possible. Anyone with sores or other symptoms that last 10 days or more should see a doctor to ensure the sores are not cancerous or precancerous.7
A sore palate is a common condition that has multiple causes. Some of the most common include burns, canker sores, and cold sores.
Usually, the causes are not serious and resolve within 10 days. If you still experience symptoms after this time, make an appointment with your doctor or dentist.
They can perform a physical assessment and rule out any serious causes. They can also recommend treatment or refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for further evaluation.
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