LeukoplakiaLeukoplakia is a rough patch that develops as a result of chronic irritation. Irritants rub against the tissue and cause rapid cell growth. The patch develops over time and is generally painless.
It can be caused by any number of things - smoking, chewing tobacco, biting the inside of the cheek or a broken or chipped tooth. In some instances, the patch may have no apparent cause. Leukoplakia is typically harmless, although there is a small chance that it could turn cancerous.
Canker SoresCanker sores are small ulcers that appear on the inside of the mouth. Unlike leukoplakia, these spots tend to be sore, or have a stinging and burning sensation. They often start as small red bumps. The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but genetics are involved. Stress, exhaustion and certain foods can aggravate them and bring them about.
Fortunately, canker sores or not cancerous. There is no cure, but there are treatments to help you manage pain, such as ointments and mouthwashes. Some treatments are prescription based. Sores will usually go away on their own in a week or two.
Oral CancerOral cancer can actually appear anywhere in the mouth, including the inside of your cheek. While oral cancer is usually linked to smoking and excessive drinking, anyone can get it. Lesions are irregular and don't clear up, like canker sores would. Oral cancer starts out painless, but spreads quickly, and, without proper treatment, is fatal. Because of this, catching it early (which is usually done at the dentist's office) is essential.
The bottom line is, if you have an unusual rough patch inside your cheek, and you're not certain of its cause, contact our office, especially if these patches don't go away after a couple of weeks. Your dentist may do a biopsy to diagnose or rule out oral cancer. If it is indeed, cancer, you can begin treatment right away and increase your chances for a successful recovery.