It’s not unusual to have sores or lesions in your mouth. Many are harmless and go away on their own in a few days. A good example of this issue is a canker sore. However, there are other problems that can be much more serious and even deadly if not treated quickly. Gum cancer, also known as oral cancer, is one of those issues. Mouth canker sores and oral cancer can often be confused. It’s important to know the difference for the sake of your health and getting treatment if you need it. The best thing to do is to speak with a dentist to be examined to find out whether you have a canker sore or gum cancer.
How to Identify a Canker Sore
Canker sores are painful sores that appear in the mouth, usually on the inside of the cheek or on the gum. They may be reddish or white in color. Generally, if you feel pain when you have a sore in your mouth, it is probably not oral cancer because cancerous lesions tend to be painless. Mouth canker sores also usually go away on their own in a week or two, sometimes even only in a few days.
A canker sore is round or oval in shape, small and not deep, and white or yellowish with a red border around them. Although many of these sores are painful, not all are and some may take as long as six weeks to heal.
Canker sores develop for a number of reasons. They can appear as a result of hormonal changes, stress to the mouth or even sensitivity to certain foods. Unlike oral cancer, canker sores are also not patchy.
Generally, there are a few treatment options for canker sores, such as a medicinal mouth rinse that your dentist or doctor can prescribe. There are over-the-counter creams like Orajel that can be applied to relieve the pain, and oral steroids may also be effective. However, most canker sores go away on their own without treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
If you have a lesion or sore that is gum cancer, it won’t heal on its own like a canker sore. A cancerous ulcer is generally painless and can be determined by a few different signs and symptoms. They include the following:
- Sores in the mouth that bleed
- Thick lumps or tissue in the mouth
- Teeth suddenly loose without reason
- Patches in the mouth that are red or white and blotchy
- Numbness in the mouth
- A persistent sore throat or hoarseness
- The sensation that something is stuck in your throat
- Pain, stiffness, or swelling in your jaw
- Your dentures suddenly fitting poorly
Knowing Your Risk for Gum Cancer
Something that can help you to determine whether you merely have a canker sore or gum cancer is to determine your risk for the disease. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that people who smoke or are heavy drinkers are more likely to develop oral cancer. People over 44 years old are also more likely to develop the disease. Having human papillomavirus (HPV) also increases one’s risk of getting oral cancer.
If you want to be examined for possible oral cancer and are located near the Pleasant View area, contact Mountain View Dental at your earliest convenience. Schedule your appointment today, and ask any questions or concerns you have.
Call (385) 324-3557 to schedule an appointment.