When a dentist or medical practitioner mentions oral lesions to their patient, the first concern is always oral cancer. While it’s true lesions are often a symptom of oral cancer, there are also many other kinds of lesions that are relatively benign and easy to treat.
Candidiasis is one of the most common types of oral lesions. More than half of all adults carry the fungus that causes candidiasis without being affected, but there are many things that can trigger an overgrowth, including illnesses, use of inhalers, dentures, and several diseases. While Candidiasis is relatively easy to treat, it can also be a symptom of certain other diseases like diabetes, or decreased immunity.
Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes simplex virus, or what most people know as “cold sores,” are another common and usually harmless form of oral lesions that have nothing to do with oral cancer. They might be painful, and they do recur in people who have had them before, but they aren’t anything to worry about.
Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis
Recurrent aphthous stomatitis is another common and mostly benign form of oral lesions that patients often worry about. These lesions, also known as canker sores have unknown causes. If a patient regularly has these types of oral lesions, they should be referred to their family doctor to investigate potential underlying causes.
Hairy tongue is a very common type of oral lesion in smokers, as well as in people who use oxidising mouthwashes and certain types of medication. The hairy appearance is due to increased keratinization or inadequate desquamation.
Oral Lichen Planus
Oral lichen planus appears in two main forms: reticular and erosive. The lesions can be asymptomatic or painful ulcers. It is often associated with auto immune diseases but is not indicative of any form of oral cancer.
Fibromas are a reaction to local irritation or trauma to the cheek or gums caused by chewing. A fibroma is a cluster of hyperplastic fibrous connective tissue, and like most of the other oral lesions on this list, they are harmless.
Leukoplakia, Erythroplakia, and Oral Cancer
Malignant and pre-malignant oral lesions are actually fairly rare, and very often are painless, unlike many of the other forms of oral lesion on this list. Oral cancer affects approximately 3 percent of North American adults, and it is more common in people who smoke and chew tobacco. There are a few other lifestyle risk factors that may increase the risk.
As with all cancers, early detection and treatment vastly increases the likelihood of a full recovery.
For more information on mouth lesions or oral cancer, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Tom Shackleton by contacting us at 403-242-9952 today.