Your Guide to Oral Psoriasis

An estimated 2 to 3 percent of the population suffers from psoriasis. If you are one of these people, you should know that oral psoriasis can affect the inside of your mouth. However, even if you have never been diagnosed with psoriasis of the skin, you can still develop oral psoriasis.

While oral psoriasis has always been considered relatively rare, many medical experts now believe this condition is not that rare but is instead just underdiagnosed. This may be due to the fact that many people with psoriasis seek help from dermatologists or primary care providers when managing their conditions, and these professionals don’t examine the mouth as closely as a dental professional.

This leads to dentists often being the first care providers to notice the signs of oral psoriasis. Read on to learn the symptoms of this condition, how it is diagnosed, and management tips.

Oral Psoriasis Symptoms

Not all oral psoriasis symptoms are severe. In fact, some go completely unnoticed until a dentist finds them during an oral exam. However, other symptoms cause pain and discomfort that can be helped with medication or lifestyle changes.

While the symptoms can appear virtually anywhere in your mouth, this condition most commonly affects lips, the insides of cheeks, and/or the tongue.

Just a few of the most common oral psoriasis symptoms include:

  • Sores inside the mouth that are flat and yellowish-white in color or white and elevated.
  • Lips that appear dry and crusted.
  • Red patches on the tongue that resemble a map, called geographic tongue.
  • Grooves or cracks in the tongue.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain.
  • A painful sensation in the mouth when eating spicy foods.
  • Changes in taste perception.

While rarer, some people experience peeling of the skin on their gums.

Oral Psoriasis Diagnosis

Since the symptoms of oral psoriasis vary so greatly, and no fool-proof diagnostic test exists, doctors and dentists typically first make an attempt to rule out other more common and more serious oral health problems before suspecting and making this diagnosis.

Oral health problems that oral psoriasis can mimic include oral thrush, leukoplakia, and squamous cell carcinoma, to name just a few. If the dentist rules out these other conditions, they’ll begin treatment.

Symptom Management

You have many ways to manage oral psoriasis. If your symptoms cause no discomfort, then you can typically ignore them unless your doctor or dentist advises otherwise. For example, although a geographic tongue may appear unsightly, this condition often disappears on its own without causing oral discomfort.

However, when symptoms become uncomfortable or downright painful, treatment is often necessary.


If you also suffer from psoriasis of the skin and you experience an oral outbreak, a round of your usual psoriasis medication may help nip your outbreak in the bud. In addition, topical anesthetic gels or liquids can ease oral pain, and particularly troublesome oral psoriasis manifestations can be treated with steroid ointments or injections.

If your symptoms are especially severe, then an immunosuppressant medication, such as cyclosporine, may be prescribed.


Avoid the consumption of spicy foods when experiencing oral psoriasis outbreaks. This can be an irritant. Quit smoking to eliminate the oral irritation cigarette smoke causes. It has been shown that eating a healthy diet with at least one serving of fruit per day minimizes the effects of symptoms.

Limit or remove alcohol consumption to make a difference. Healthy eating habits benefit the body, so this should be a step taken even if medication is taken along the side.

Try these foods that fight inflammation:

  • Cherries
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • Olive Oil
  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt

Pain Management

If your oral psoriasis causes you to experience pain in your temporomandibular joint, then this pain could signal psoriatic arthritis. Up to 30 percent of all people with psoriasis also have psoriasis arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis affecting the temporomandibular joint can be treated with corticosteroid injections for immediate pain and swelling reduction.

However, long-term management of psoriatic arthritis typically involves treatment with a biologic drug that helps prevent further joint deterioration.


Schedule a Dental Appointment

Any time you notice a strange change in your mouth, such as white patches inside of your cheeks or an unusual-looking tongue, notify your dentist.

The sooner you talk to your dentist near you, the sooner they can perform an oral exam to determine the cause of the strange symptom(s) and suggest proper treatment. Contact the staff at Snodgrass-King to schedule an oral exam today.