Hesperian Health Guides

Sores at the Corners of the Mouth

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HealthWiki > Where There Is No Dentist > Chapter 7 Part 1: Problems You Will See Most Often > Sores at the Corners of the Mouth


Teeth support the lips. When they come together for chewing, the teeth stop the person’s chin from moving any closer to the nose.

A person without many teeth looks old. A person with a poor fitting denture also looks old.

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The distance from his chin to his nose is shorter than normal.

He must close his jaw further to eat. That causes lines to form at the corners of his mouth.

Poor health can make lines at the corners of the mouth crack and become sore. These cracks are often infected with thrush and can be treated with nystatin. If sores are not at the corners but around the mouth, they could be due to a bacterial infection.

A person with missing teeth needs dentures. Dentures will help him chew more food and make him look younger. They support his lips and open his mouth more.

Cracks and sores appearing at the corners of a child’s mouth are signs of dehydration and malnutrition.
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A child who has had a fever or measles often has dry lips. The corners of her mouth can crack and become sore.

The child needs to eat the kind of foods that give strength, energy, and protection. Feed her beans, milk, eggs, fish, oils, fruits, and green leafy vegetables.

Treatment (when sores occur):
  1. Wash the sores with soap and hot water.
  2. Mix 1 part sulfur with 10 parts of petroleum jelly (Vaseline).
  3. Smear some on the sores 3 to 4 times a day.



This page was updated:19 Feb 2018