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Mouth Diseases

Roof of mouth problem

07/01/2008

Question:

For 2 days I had a coating I could feel on the roof of my mouth. Then what looks like an infection developed, a kind of large white-yellow patch surrounded by pink infection. This burned and throbbed and moved to that bone at the back of the roof and it and my upper gums were sore. All that progressed over about 5 days and now (day 10) is on the wane, everything shrinking, but slowly. I`ve felt feverish off and on and about 4 days ago it reached a pitch. I`ve never had an infection like this. I was in Europe for nearly 2 weeks a month ago, different contries. I accidently swallowed water in a salt-water public pool here at home that went through my nose and out my mouth. Could either of these have caused this? No sneezing, coughing, etc. Just before this attack in my mouth I had a big an painful ache at the top vertebrae in my back (before the neck) that spread out over my shoulders and back for 3 days but is gone. Any ideas what`s going on with my mouth?

Answer:

Although you do not give your age or describe the distribution of the lesions on your palate (roof of the mouth), the time course of the problem is completely consistent with a viral infection. Most of these infections would affect a much more generalized area of the mouth, however.

The two conditions that would most likely cause problems localized to the roof of the mouth would be either recurrent herpes simplex (sort of like a fever blister in the mouth) or herpes zoster ("shingles") affecting the mouth. Usually these conditions affect primarily one side of the palate, and they are caused by reactivation of viruses that most of us have residing in our nerves in a latent (inactive) state.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University