The Difference between Canker Sores and Oral Cancer

Learning about “canker sore vs. mouth cancer” is crucial. People are often confused about the difference between these two oral issues. We understand that spotting a strange change in your mouth can be scary. You want to know what that mark is, why it has appeared, and how long it will be there. Since you don’t know whether it is harmless or something serious, it’s essential to visit the Richmond dentist and let them evaluate your oral condition.
The same is the case with canker sores. Around more than half the population in the United States gets canker sores. You can experience canker sores on tonsils and at the back of your throat or uvula. Moreover, many people often get confused between two different types of oral issues: canker sores and mouth cancer. This guide will address “canker sore vs. cancer” so you can better identify what’s going on in your oral cavity. Let’s get started!

What are Canker Sores?


Canker sores are tiny, round-shaped ulcers that often appear inside the cheeks or lips, on the tongue, back of the throat, or the base of the gums. In most cases, these small ulcers are relatively minor issues and go away on their own within 7 to 14 days. No matter how rare, you can still get a larger canker sore that doesn’t heal for a couple of months.
Minor canker sores are virtually harmless and only cause a little discomfort. According to the Mayo Clinic, several things can cause canker sores, including hormonal shifts, stress, toothpaste, and food sensitivities.

What is Oral Cancer?


Oral cancer can grow anywhere in your mouth. According to the American Dental Association, people who consume tobacco and/or drink are more vulnerable to developing mouth cancer, along with people above the age of 44. Oral cancer typically affects your tongue, lips, throat, or cheeks. It often shows up as flat, red, white, or brown patches in your mouth. These patches are made of cancerous cells.
According to Mouth Cancer.org, canker sores that don’t heal on their own can signify mouth cancer. So you should let your dentist check your oral condition if you experience persistent signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

Canker Sores vs. Cancer


Canker sores and mouth cancer are different in the following ways:

  1. Canker sores often go away within 7-14 days, while oral cancer patches don’t go away within this timeframe.
  2. Oral cancer signs are often painless, whereas a canker sore generally causes discomfort.
  3. Canker sores are always flat and have a yellow or white center. They turn gray as they start healing. Conversely, oral cancer patches can be raised or flat and are often white, red, or brown.
  4. Canker sores can cause temporary pain when you have acidic drinks. But this pain doesn’t lead to problems with speaking, chewing, or swallowing like oral cancer does.

Oral Cancer Screenings are Important in Identifying “Oral Cancer Vs. Canker Sore”


According to the American Cancer Society, about 54,000 new cases of oral cancer have been reported in the United States for 2021. Luckily, it has a high survival rate of 85 to 90 percent. But it is important to have such severe cases diagnosed at an early stage. Therefore, if you notice a sore or lesion that doesn’t heal within 10 to 14 days, call Mission Bend Family Dentistry at 832-895-5110 to schedule an appointment. Our dentists will evaluate your condition and perform oral cancer screenings if required. By knowing “canker sore vs. oral cancer” and the importance of oral cancer screenings, you will save yourself from a lot of worries and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with education and proper diagnosis.