Canker Sores, Cold Sores, and More

Mouth sores can be annoying and painful, and some can lead to oral cancer.

Oral cancer is becoming more and more prevalent, and mouth sores could be some of the cause.  Canker sores are small ulcers that occur inside the mouth.  They are gray or white with a red border, and are not contagious.  To treat them, it is recommended that an antimicrobial rinse like Listerine or an over-the-counter anesthetic like Orajel be used.  Cold sores are small sores that are fluid filled.  These occur outside of the mouth, and they are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus.  Once infected with this virus, it will stay in your system forever.  Treatment for these sores is an over-the-counter anesthetic, like Abreva.  Leukoplakia is a type of mouth sore that occurs as thick whitish patches on the tongue, cheeks, or gums.  Leukoplakia is normally associated with tobacco use, specifically chewing tobacco, but they can also be from chewing the side of your cheek or from an ill-fitting denture.  This type of sore can lead to cancer in tobacco users, so your dentist may take a biopsy of the tissue.  To treat leukoplakia, you must first stop the activity which caused the white patches in the first place.  Candidiasis is a fungal infection normally associated with dentures or immune system deficiencies.  It is also seen in people who have chronic dry mouth, which makes the mouth more susceptible to the yeast causing the infection.  The best treatment for this kind of infection is good hygiene, because without it the yeast is allowed to fluorish without boundaries.

Oral Cancer and Its Prevention

Oral cancer can be easily prevented.

Oral cancer is caused by abnormal cell growth in your mouth.  These cells can present themselves as red or white spots or sores on your lips, gums, inner cheek, tongue, and palate.  Finding and removing these cells, as well as reducing the use of alcohol or tobacco, are the most effective ways to prevent these cancerous cells from starting or spreading.  On average, only half of those diagnosed with oral cancer will survive for more than five years.  Even though there are risk factors that can induce this cancer, about 25% of people have no risk factors present. More and more oral cancers are a result of the HPV virus.  This type of cancer can be prevented with a simple vaccine.  Oral cancer presents serious risks to your health, and it is important that you should have an oral exam twice a year to help prevent oral cancer.  For more information on oral cancer and ways to prevent it, please visit this page by the American Dental Association on oral cancer.