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10 Reasons The Roof Of Your Mouth Hurts

Pain on the roof of your mouth, or hard palate, is an unpleasant interruption to your day. Although it is usually nothing to worry about, the pain may be a symptom of something that could lead to complications later. You can proactively address underlying issues once you understand what causes the pain and what other symptoms may occur.

10 reasons the roof of your mouth hurts

1. You Have Burned Your Mouth

The mucous membrane on the roof of your mouth is sensitive, and you can damage it easily with hot food and drinks. Burns from food are usually not serious and can be expected to heal in 3 to 7 days. However, serious burns can become infected and may require medical attention. If they do, a doctor may prescribe a medicated mouth rinse to cure the infection and control the discomfort.

2. Your Diet Is Causing It

Certain foods contain acids that can irritate and even damage the soft membrane on the roof of your mouth. Spicy peppers are an obvious irritant that can form lesions, but many forget that citrus fruits are also very acidic. Furthermore, tomatoes, eggs, and chocolate can cause irritation and pain in oral tissues. Avoiding these types of food can stop the pain and prevent lesions.

Diets deficient in certain vitamins and minerals can cause pain in the hard palate. You may start to notice discomfort if deficient in B12, vitamin C, iron, or folate. A healthy and balanced diet is sufficient to prevent pain in the roof of your mouth.

ALSO READ: 10 Reasons The Roof Of Your Mouth Is Itchy

3. You Smoke and Drink Too Much

Alcohol is a tissue irritant that causes systemic dehydration. Smoking is also an irritant and presents a risk of local dehydration or burn damage. The irritation from either one is enough to cause pain on the roof of your mouth.

Alcohol and tobacco use of any kind has been linked to increased risk of various cancers, including oral cancer. There is no way to remove the risk of cancer completely. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco is one of the most effective ways to reduce your chances of developing it.

4. You Are Suffering from Dehydration or an Electrolyte Imbalance

Your body needs minerals called electrolytes to perform many of its necessary functions. Electrolytes also help your body regulate its fluids. An imbalance or lack of electrolytes can lead to dehydration. Sensitive mucosa, like the roof of your mouth, can become irritated and painfully inflamed when dehydrated.

If the roof of your mouth hurts because of dehydration, you need to rehydrate as soon as possible. An electrolyte-rich sports drink may help, but a serious issue may require an IV drip at a doctor’s office.

5. Canker Sores Have Developed

Canker sores can form anywhere in your mouth, including the roof. They can make eating and talking painful. Some people report feeling tingling for a few days before the sores erupt.

They are neither dangerous nor contagious, but large ones can leave scars. The cause of canker sores is unknown, but they are not contagious. They heal on their own over 5 to 10 days, and baking soda or salt water rinses can speed up the process.

6. You Have Caught Cold Sores

The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores and patches of fluid-filled blisters. They are highly contagious but usually not dangerous. However, cold sores can spread an infection to other body parts, such as the eyes and fingertips. People with weakened immune systems are more likely to suffer complications from the infection.

Cold sores can spread through any close contact, particularly through fluid transmission. The blisters form scabs after rupture, and painful tingling may persist for 7 to 10 days, though the sores do not leave scars.

7. You May Have Gingivitis

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue. It can lead to complications like heart disease, systemic infection, and jawbone destruction. Poor dental hygiene is the leading cause of gingivitis, though smoking, age, diabetes, HIV, and malnutrition also increase the risk.

The inflammation from gingivitis can spread to the roof of your mouth and cause significant discomfort. Thorough cleaning and improved hygiene can treat gingivitis. Anti-inflammatory drugs will reduce discomfort and speed up the healing process.

Also Read: Tooth Abscess: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

8. Infection Has Set In

Viral, bacterial, and fungal infections can all cause the roof of your mouth to hurt. Many infections appear in the mouth as white or red patches that are very sensitive to the touch. Furthermore, a systemic infection can also cause localized pain in oral tissue. These infections usually have additional symptoms, such as fever and general soreness. A doctor may recommend different medications depending on the type of infection.

9. You May Be Having an Allergic Reaction

Serious allergic reactions can cause rapid swelling and inflammation in oral tissues. Some of these reactions come from food allergies, particularly tree nuts and seed oils. Certain medications can also cause painful swelling on the roof of your mouth. Such drugs include antibiotics, mood stabilizers, and antiepileptic prescriptions.

Allergic reactions of this type are often anaphylactic, which means they close off your airway. This condition is fatal and requires an EpiPen and hospitalization to treat.

10. You Have Developed Oral Cancer

A sore roof of the mouth is also a symptom of oral cancer. Other symptoms include lumps in the mouth, loose teeth, painful swallowing, and ear pain. It is tough to differentiate between cancer and other causes of hard palate pain.

If your discomfort persists for more than two weeks, see a doctor. They may refer you to an oral surgeon for a biopsy. Although there is no proven way to prevent cancer, many experts recommend avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and excessive sunlight.

Treatments for oral cancer include chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. A surgeon may remove a tumor and perform reconstructive surgery on your mouth.

Also Read: Corrective Jaw Surgery: All You Wanted to Know

Final Word

When the roof of your mouth hurts, it could be nothing. However, sometimes the pain is a symptom of a more serious condition. Things like canker sores or mild dehydration pose little threat and are treated easily. But oral cancer and serious allergies can be life-threatening. Knowing why the roof of your mouth hurts and what could be causing it lets you make an informed decision on when to seek help from a doctor.


  • Hannah Marshall, Oliver R. Gibson, Lee M. Romer, Camilla Illidi, James H. Hull, and Pascale Kippelen. ‘Systemic but not local rehydration restores dehydration-induced changes in pulmonary function in healthy adults.’ Journal of Applied Physiology, 01 Mar 2021.

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