I get sores on my tongue. Could it be cancer?

Mouth sores can be painful, annoying and unsightly. Some appear inside the mouth – on the gums, tongue, lips, cheeks or palate (roof of mouth).  Others, like cold sores, can appear outside the mouth, such as on and around the lips, under the nose and on the chin.

Mouth sores can be caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections or oral cancer. Some other causes include:  extreme sensitivity to ingredients found in some toothpastes or mouth rinses; medication, cancer treatment side effects or reaction to therapy; or certain specific skin, oral or systemic diseases.

Some people may experience occasional discolored, painless spots in their mouth. Most are harmless and will disappear or remain unchanged.  However, some sores or spots can be serious and need attention of your dentist or physician.  That’s why regular dental checkups are so important.  Have your dentist examine any mouth sore or spot that fails to heal within two weeks.

Laurie Smith, RDH

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