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Mouth Diseases

Sloughing of skin inside the mouth

08/23/2006

Question:

For about two months now I have had the skin inside of my mouth sloughing off. It is mostly on the inside of the cheek area & the bottom of my jawline. Very annoying knowing that every day I can feel this skin & I try to get it off with my tongue. This is a daily procedure. I am a smoker. I only brush my teeth twice a day, usually in the morning & I use a prebrush rinse once before brushing & I use mouthwash twice in the morning. Could these be irritants to my mouth as I have been using this mouthwash for a long time, but the prebrush rinse for maybe about 3-4 months. Do I see my regular doctor or an oral practitioner of some kind to rule out any underlying causes or cancer?

Answer:

What you are describing sounds very much like a reaction to the chemicals found in many newer-formula toothpastes and mouthwashes.  For all practical purposes, these ingredients can cause the equivalent of a chemical peel inside the mouth, leading to the sloughing that you describe.  While not a serious problem, it can certainly be annoying.

I would suggest you stop using the prebrush rinse first.  If things improve, then that was the likely culprit.  If needed (after 3-4 days and things don’t seem better), the next step would be to stop using the mouthwash (look for one that does not contain alcohol) and then switching to a bland toothpaste.  The pastes are usually less of a problem than the gels, and you should avoid all the tartar-control or total/complete formulas.

If these steps don’t help, I would suggest you see your dentist. 

Good luck!

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University