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Gingivostomatitis

Gingivostomatitis is an infection of the mouth and gums that leads to swelling and sores. It may be due to a virus or bacteria.

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Gingivitis
Gingivitis

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Causes

Gingivostomatitis is common among children. It may occur after infection with the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which also causes cold sores.

The condition may also occur after infection with a coxsackie virus.

It may occur in people with poor oral hygiene.

Symptoms

The symptoms can be mild or severe and may include:

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will check your mouth for small ulcers. These sores are similar to mouth ulcers caused by other conditions. Cough, fever, or muscle aches may indicate other conditions.

Most of the time, no special tests are needed to diagnose gingivostomatitis. However, the provider may take a small piece of tissue from the sore to check for a viral or bacterial infection. This is called a culture. A biopsy may be done to rule out other types of mouth ulcers.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms.

Things you can do at home include:

You may need to take antibiotics.

You may need to have the infected tissue removed by the dentist (called debridement).

Outlook (Prognosis)

Gingivostomatitis infections range from mild to severe and painful. The sores often get better in 2 or 3 weeks with or without treatment. Treatment may reduce discomfort and speed healing.

Possible Complications

Gingivostomatitis may disguise other, more serious mouth ulcers.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

Related Information

Mucosa
Mouth ulcers
Herpetic stomatitis
Herpangina

References

Brice SL. Viral diseases of the skin. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2021. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier 2021:1088-1093.

Christian JM, Felts CB, Beckmann NA, Gillespie MB. Deep neck and odontogenic infections. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 9.

Romero JR. Coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and numbered enteroviruses (EV-A71, EV-D68, EVD-70). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 172.

Shaw J. Infections of the oral cavity. In: Long SS, Prober CG, Fischer M, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 25.

Whitley RJ, Gnann JW. Herpes simplex virus infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 350.

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Review Date: 2/1/2021  

Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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