Palatal burns, also called pizza palate, are burns on the roof of your mouth that occur when you consume a hot food or beverage. As the name suggests, pizza is a common culprit, but any hot food or drink can burn your palate and lead to this condition. Here are three things you need to know about palatal burns.
What are the signs of palatal burns?
If you experience a palatal burn, you'll feel pain and a burning sensation on the roof of your mouth. The area may become swollen, and you will be able to feel this swelling with your tongue. If you're able to get a better look at the roof of your mouth using a small mirror, you'll see lesions on the burnt part of your palate. These lesions may be white lesions, blisters or even ulcers, depending on the severity of your burn.
What complications can palatal burns cause?
Palatal burns are painful and can make your daily activities difficult. Until your burn heals, tasks like eating, drinking, talking or cleaning your teeth may hurt. While these symptoms are unpleasant, as long as your burn is mild, they usually only last for a few days, according to Oral Health Net.
In some cases, palatal burns can become infected. It's common knowledge that the human mouth is full of bacteria, so it's no surprise that these burns can become infected. Infections inside the mouth are a concern, because if the infection spreads, many important tissues are nearby. For example, oral infections can spread to the sinuses, the bones or even the brain. Your dentist can help you avoid serious complications from your palatal burn.
How do dentists treat palatal burns?
If your burn is mild, home remedies may be sufficient treatment. If this is the case, your dentist will recommend avoiding hot or acidic foods or drinks while your burn is healing as these items can irritate the damaged tissues; instead, choose cold, bland foods and drinks. Alcohol should also be avoided to avoid further irritation to the burn. If you're a smoker, your dentist may recommend quitting, or at the very least, cutting back until your mouth feels better. This is because smoking slows your body's wound healing process, so if you smoke, your burn will take longer to heal. You'll also need to brush your teeth carefully until your burn heals. If you brush the burned area, you could further damage the tissue.
Keeping the burned area clean is important, so your dentist will recommend rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution or a mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine gluconate. Chlorhexide gluconate is a medication that helps kill germs inside your mouth. It's typically used to treat gum disease, but it's also useful for preventing infections in oral burns. If your dentist thinks you have an increased risk of developing an infection—due to poor oral hygiene or a disease that suppresses your immune system, like HIV or diabetes—they may prescribe antibiotics as a precaution.
If your burn is severe, you may need additional treatments. Your dentist may provide a plastic guard, known as a palatal stent, to protect your burn while it heals. These devices are custom-made to fit your mouth and look similar to retainers. With this guard in place, you won't need to worry about your tongue touching your burned palate and causing pain.
Your dentist will want to follow up with you about three weeks after your injury to make sure your burn has healed properly. If you have any concerns about your burn, make sure to mention them to your dentist.
If you've burned the roof of your mouth on a piece of pizza or another hot food or drink, see a dentist, such as those at Love Your Smile Family Aesthetic Dentistry, right away.