Red Spots on the Roof of Mouth Causes and Treatment Options

Discovering red spots on the roof of one’s mouth can be a very worrying experience. This is because the spots can be caused by a myriad of reasons. And while the red spots on the roof of mouth can be due to innocent causes, some may be quite serious and may require urgent medical attention.

What Causes Red Spots on Roof of Mouth?

Mouth sores and spots can be painful, unsightly, and annoying and while some may appear inside the mouth such as one lips, tongue, gums, and roof of the mouth or palate, others could occur outside the mouth around the lips, on the chin, and under the nose.

Red spots on roof of mouth
Red spots on roof of mouth

There are a number of potential causes of red spots on roof of mouth. Some of these issues are only small inconvenience. Presence of red spots on the roof of mouth might be a sign of different things and it is good to see a healthcare provider.

The following are a few possible causes of these red spots as well as how each condition would be treated.

1. Canker Sores

No one knows what causes canker sores. The vast majority of people who develop canker sores do not have another problem as the cause.

Both hereditary and environmental causes of the disease have been suggested, but the exact cause is not clear. A number of factors have been suggested to cause outbreaks in susceptible individuals.

  • Oral trauma
  • Hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Smoking cessation
  • Heredity
  • Drugs (including anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen [Motrin], and beta-blockers, such as atenolol [Tenormin])
  • Food allergies or sensitivities (chocolate, tomatoes, nuts, and acidic foods such as pineapple, and preservatives such as benzoic acid and cinnamaldehyde)
  • Toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Deficiencies of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12 (although supplementation with iron or vitamins has not been shown to increase the likelihood of ulcer resolution).

2. Candidiasis bumps on palate

Which is also known as moniliasis or oral thrush, may also be indicated by presence of the red spots in mouth. This is a fungal infection and it produces white and red creamy patches on surface of mouth. It can be pretty painful and could cause a patient to have bad breath and experience difficulties in swallowing or tasking food.

Common in those with dentures and diabetes, candidiasis is most often treated by preventing the overgrowth in the first place

3. Coxsackievirus Infection

This is the virus responsible for hand, foot and mouth disease and can lead to painful red spots and blisters along the roof of the mouth of children in addition to their feet and hands. It can occur in all ages, but is most common among children under five.

4. Erythroplakia red spots on mouth roof

Another possibility is that the red spots on roof of mouth could be occurring due to thinning of the mouth lining. When the lining inside the mouth thins, the capillaries get closer to the surface and this makes them appear more reddish in color. The lesion areas called erythroplakia will tend to bleed easily if they are scraped and this is because they are raised to the surface.

The erythroplakia could at times be a predictor of possibility for developing cancer, therefore, it is important to seek help of doctor in order to have the red spots examined. Erythroplakia occurs as a red patch mainly on mouth floor and on gums but they could also affect the roof of mouth.

The cause for erythroplakia is unknown but is most often associated with use of alcohol or smoking. It can also be contributed to by poor nutrition and chronic irritation.

Erythroplakia, though most less common in relation to leukoplakia, it is the common lesion that will be found in people in precancerous stage when observed using a biopsy. If you have red lesions that are not healing in a week, it is essential you be evaluated by a doctor.

5. Oral Herpes

The red spots on the roof of the mouth could also be a sign of oral herpes. These sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type-1 referred to as HSV-1. The herpes simplex virus 1 causes small but painful blisters on lips, skin around the mouth, and on gums.

Oral herpes is an infection that is caused by primarily the HSV-1 or the type-1 herpes simplex virus. Oral herpes can be transmitted through contact with a person infected with the virus. If one gets in contact with saliva of an infected individual, he or she could contract the disease. Kissing and sharing of utensils could result to contracting the condition.

It is not typically an STI disease or sexually transmitted infection however, the HSV-1 could be passed from genitals to mouth and vice versa but in rare cases. People indulging in oral sex may risk contracting the virus from their partners, which could cause oral herpes.

If the dots or spots in your mouth precede a grey or white ulcer, they could be a sign of oral herpes. The ulcers could take some time to develop than red spot, therefore, you might have to wait for several days in order to see if you will develop the ulcer right in middle of the red spots. Another indication of red areas inside the mouth could be injuries to the roof of the mouth.

6. Strep throat symptoms

The bacteria can spread to you when a person with strep throat sneezes or blows his or her nose and you are nearby, or if you share the same forks, spoons, or straws. If you get strep throat, you’ll start to feel sick within 5 days after you were around the person who gave it to you.

To be able to diagnose whatever is ailing you, your doctor will look into your mouth. They will be looking for the following things:

  • An itchy red throat.
  • Swollen tonsils.
  • White or yellow spots on your tonsils.
  • Small red spots in the roof of your mouth.

Most of the time, strep will give you a sore throat, headache, stomachache, and fever.     Typically strep will not give you a runny nose or cough, and occasionally it won’t give you any specific symptoms.

To be sure you have strep throat, your doctor may do one or two tests:

  1. First, he or she can do a rapid strep test to check for strep bacteria. The doctor takes a sample by rubbing a cotton swab over the back of your throat. With this test, the doctor may be able to find out in a few minutes if you have strep throat.
  2. If the first test doesn’t prove anything, your doctor might do a longer test called a throat culture. Again, the doctor will take a sample using a cotton swab. This time, the sample goes on a special dish and is left to sit for 2 nights. If you have strep throat, the bacteria will usually grow in the dish within 1-2 days.

7. HIV can cause red spots on roof of mouth

It’s estimated that 90% of people with HIV will develop at least one oral condition related to HIV disease. These conditions, like candidiasis and hairy leukoplakia, may be the first sign of immune suppression linked to HIV infection and in many people are the first signals that lead doctors to encourage HIV testing. Most show up as lesions or sores and can be categorized into four types: abnormal cell growth, bacterial, viral and fungal.

The most common oral conditions of HIV infection are discussed below, but many others exist. In fact, at least 40 conditions have been recorded, so it’s important to pay attention to changes in your oral health.

Treatment of Red Spots on Roof of Mouth.

When you have the red spots in mouth, it is essential that you seek medical attention because it is not easy to determine what might be causing them. There are many different conditions that can present in form of red dots within the roof of the mouth. Without proper examination, you might not know what you are suffering from.

  1. Canker Sores– Canker sores are not a serious condition and as such can be treated using over the counter medication for example an analgesic ointment. Mouthwash can also temporarily numb your sores. In some cases, you may need a prescription for medication with lidocaine or aphthasol.
  2. Candidiasis– The goal when treating candidiasis usually is to first stop the growth, then treat the root cause of the ailment. The treatments used to manage Candida infections vary substantially and are based on the anatomic location of the infection, the patients’ underlying disease and immune status, the patients’ risk factors for infection, the specific species of Candida responsible for infection, and, in some cases, the susceptibility of the Candida species to specific antifungal drugs.

Thrush treatment commonly involves taking prescription antifungal medications for 10 to 14 days. They can be found in liquids, lozenges or tablets. In some cases, this issue will indicate another medical problem, so you may need to visit a doctor as well as a dentist.

  • Coxsackievirus– Treatment options for this condition include over-the-counter medications for fever and pain, as well as special medicated mouthwashes to help alleviate the discomfort associated with the oral sores.
  1. Erythroplakia– The treatment options for erythroplakia can vary greatly. It’s always imperative to keep frequent follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider. Sometimes surgical removal is necessary and in rare instances, laser surgery or cryosurgery is needed.
  1. Oral Herpes- Untreated, the symptoms will generally subside in 1 to 2 weeks. Antiviral medications given by mouth may shorten the course of the symptoms and decrease pain.

Wash blisters gently with soap and water to minimize the spread of the virus to other areas of skin. An antiseptic soap may be recommended. Applying ice or warmth to the area may reduce pain.

Take precautions to avoid infecting others.

Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to treat muscle aches or fever. You should also drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration. Your doctor may also prescribe a medication for fever.

Pain relief may be via a topical anesthetic like viscous lidocaine. There is an IV or oral medication, but only for those with weakened immune systems, severe disease or those who are under 6 weeks old.

In certain cases, people with oral herpes may need to be admitted to the hospital. This includes those younger than 6 weeks old, with a severe local infection, with an infection that spreads to the other organs, with weakened immune systems or those who are dehydrated.

  1. Strep Throat- If you have strep throat, your doctor will give you an antibiotic, a medicine that kills bacteria. Usually the antibiotic used for strep throat is a form of penicillin. To make sure the bacteria go away completely and don’t spread to other parts of your body, you must finish the prescribed dosage. Your doctor will have you take the pills or liquid for 10 days.
  • HIV- As you may be well aware, HIV and AIDS doesn’t have a cure. When one tests positive for the virus, it is advised that they should immediately be introduced to anti-retroviral treatment. It is also adviced that one should not go off the medication for any reason because the moment the individual goes back to receive treatment they will have to be put on stronger medication with severe side effects.
  • Injuries

Hitting your mouth with a hard food item, like a pretzel, can lead to red spots. This would be a temporary injury and can cause multiple spots.

Treatment for red bumps on roof of mouth

Red spots caused by accidentally hitting the roof of your mouth usually go away within one to two weeks. You can suck on an ice pop or piece of ice frequently.

Also, try rinsing with salt water. While healing, opt for soft foods that are easy to swallow and avoid those that may cause stinging, like spicy foods, tomatoes and citrus juices or fruits.

It is therefore important to see your health care provider who, in addition to physically examining the (red) spots on the roof of your mouth, can talk with you about other aspects of your health, like whether you are experiencing other symptoms, such as pain or fever, which will help narrow down the diagnosis of the potential cause and treatments, if any, of your red spots. Even if it’s nothing serious, just knowing will help bring peace of mind.

Sources and references:

  1. Colgate: oral-health/conditions/mouth-sores-and-infections/article/sw-281474979070492
  2. New Health Advisor: Red-Spots-on-Roof-of-Mouth.html
  3. Medical Treasure: Red-dots-on-roof-of-mouth
  4. Kids Health: kidshealth.org

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