Swelling on the Roof of Your Mouth: Causes and More

The roof of your mouth is a common site where some types of swelling occur. These are called “roofing” or “swelling”. They may be caused by many things, but they most commonly result from infection. There are two main causes of roofing: bacterial infections (such as strep throat) and viral infections (such as colds).

Bacterial Roofing – Streptococcus mutans bacteria cause most cases of roofing. These bacteria produce acid when they multiply.

The body’s immune system responds by producing antibodies against these bacteria. This results in the production of saliva which coats the surface of the teeth and gums and keeps them moist until they dry out.

Viral Roofing – Influenza A virus is another common cause of roofing. Flu viruses cause fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, cough and runny nose.

Some people develop severe flu like symptoms, others do not get sick at all.

Most roofing is harmless. However, it can sometimes lead to other problems such as:

Bleeding Gums – Bleeding gums are bleeding between the teeth and inside the gum line. This occurs because of a blockage in blood vessels leading into the mouth.

If left untreated, this condition can lead to tooth loss or even death.

Strep Throat – If the roofing is caused by strep throat, you may have a fever, swollen lymph nodes in your neck and a red rash that doesn’t itch on one side of your face or body.

Cluster Headaches – rare but painful headaches caused by the widening of blood vessels in the head. These headaches are sometimes called “knife” or “ice pick” headaches because of the intense, sharp pain they cause.

Symptoms of Roofing

The roof of your mouth may be sore, red or swollen. The area may be sensitive or may hurt when you touch or blow into it.

You may have white patches and ulcers in your mouth and a coating on your tongue. Sometimes the roof of the mouth may appear cracked or even blistered. You may have other signs of a cold, flu or infection such as fever, runny nose or cough.


The roof of your mouth will heal within a week with home treatment. To do this:

Eat soft foods and avoid abrasive food such as chips and pretzels.

Eat or drink warm liquids such as soup, tea, applesauce and pudding. Avoid drinking extremely cold beverages or eating ice.

Gargle with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt in an 8 ounce glass of warm water). Do this several times each day to help soothe your throat.

Do not use chap stick or mouthwash that contains alcohol.

Take over the counter pain medicine if needed (such as acetaminophen).

If your symptoms last more than a week, see your doctor. He or she will give you a prescription for an antibiotic.

This will kill bacteria and speed healing.


To prevent roofing, you can do the following:

Get immunizations against Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia bacteria) and Hemophilus influenza (flu virus). Make sure you receive yearly flu shots.

Wash your hands frequently to keep from getting viral infections like the flu and common cold. If you do get sick, stay home until you feel better to avoid infecting others.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Practice good hygiene. Use a paper towel to open doors and do not share food, drinks, cigarettes or utensils with others.

If you have a sore throat, do not kiss your child.

Keep your hands away from your mouth and nose.


Roofing is a common condition caused by viruses and bacteria that are usually harmless but lead to roofing in some people. It is also called angular cheilitis.


The most common sign is a sore, red, swollen or cracked corner of your mouth. It may also have small white patches on the roof of your mouth (which may appear similar to thrush).


To treat angular cheilitis, gently wash the affected area with mild soap and water and rinse well. Use an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment such as erythromicin (Ilotycin) or bacitracin (Baciguent) three times a day.

Drink plenty of water to keep your lips hydrated.


To prevent angular cheilitis, avoid habits that cause irritation in your mouth such as:

Chewing on the inside of your lip or cheek.

Brushing your teeth too hard.

Frequently licking your lips.

Do not touch or scratch a cold sore and avoid contact with people who have cold sores.

If you have a cold sore, do not kiss your child.


Most angular cheilitis is caused by a virus or bacteria, but in rare cases it can be caused by an underlying disease that requires medical treatment.


A cough that won’t go away may be a sign of a condition such as asthma, smoking, post-nasal drip, or lung cancer.


To treat a cough that will not go away, visit your doctor. He or she will give you a cough medicine or other medication.


There is no sure way to prevent a cough. However, there are ways to prevent infections that may cause a persistent cough by:

Avoiding secondhand smoke.


A persistent cough can lead to pneumonia and other lung diseases.


If you have a cough that lasts longer than two weeks, is productive (coughing up mucus or blood), or is worsening, you should see your doctor. These may be signs of an infection or another disease.


Your doctor will examine your ears, nose, and throat, take a medical history, and do a physical examination. You will probably need to have a chest x-ray and blood tests.


There is no sure way to prevent a cough, but you can try to avoid getting sick in the first place.


If a cough does not go away, it can lead to more serious health conditions such as pneumonia or lung cancer.

Do you ever get a cough that just won’t go away?

No matter what over-the-counter medicine you take, it just hangs on and on. While most coughs eventually subside, there are many reasons why they may not. In some instances, a persistent cough may be a sign of something more serious.

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