Tag Archives: Canker Sores

Canker Sore or Cancer?

My husband complained that his mouth was hurting too much to eat. I thought he was just avoiding vegetables, but he didn’t eat dessert either. I took a peek and he has a horrible spot in his mouth that looks like his skin is getting eaten away. He’s sure it’s just a canker sore and thinks it will go away. I’m worried it’s oral cancer. Is there a way to know? Would we see an emergency dentist to find out?

Tea L.

Dear Tea,

Your husband’s dentist likely does an oral cancer screening at his check-ups. If he hasn’t seen any warning signs, then it is likely just a canker sore. These will generally clear up in about two weeks. There’s no reason for an emergency dentist yet.

There are over-the-counter remedies you can try which could help with some of the pain. While they make pads to cover them, quite a few patients have found that saliva makes it difficult to keep them in place. I’ve found relief (though only temporarily) with some numbing cream.

If you’ve found it hasn’t healed after a couple of weeks, then you can schedule an appointment with your dentist to have a peek at it. Not healing quickly doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cancer. It could just as easily be a virus or simply a canker sore taking a wee bit longer to heal, so I don’t want you stressing over it.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

Is This White Sore in My Mouth Cancer?

I’ve got this painful white sore in my mouth. It’s making it hard to eat. Do I have cancer? Should I see a dentist?

Missy P. – Kentucky

Missy,

I couldn’t tell you if it was oral cancer without examining it.  Before you panic, though, it could just as likely be a canker sore. Your dentist should be doing regular examinations for oral cancer. If you don’t have a dentist, you can see an emergency dentist if it turns out not to be a canker sore.

True canker sores usually clear up between 10-14 days. It will just be a matter of managing the pain until then. There are oral antiseptics you can purchase over the counter.  They won’t take care of all the pain, but they can take the edge off of it.

If it doesn’t clear up in that amount of time, it’s time to get it checked out.  As I said before, if you don’t have a regular dentist an emergency dentist will see you. I have seen that most people who avoid the dentist do so out of fear.  There are dentists who are compassionate with fearful patients, who have methods of giving you a pain-free dental appointment.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.