Rather than dismiss an apparent ulcer, canker sore, or cracking corners of the lips, it is best to confirm your suspicions with a visit to your dental surgeon.
The term “ulcer” is used to define a deep lesion that resembles a crater that extends through the surface of the soft tissue and involves the underlying layer of connective tissue. A commonly reported oral ulcer is the traumatic ulcer, or canker sore, in which there may be initial discomfort for approximately four days. These ulcers tend to be caused by trauma or injuries from the use of chemicals, very hot foods or beverages, a scrape, or an abrasion. When the cause of the lesion has been identified and eliminated, the ulcer will generally disappear with no further treatment.
For ulcers that are found to be recurrent, rather than short-term, the source may be linked to a systemic health condition such as a rarity like Behcet’s Syndrome, a virus such as herpes simplex, or an infection from a neighboring tooth. There is also an ulcerative variety of squamous cell carcinoma, one of the most common types of oral cancer. Allowing your dental surgeon to differentiate between a cancerous ulcer and a benign lesion can help to save your life.
The treatment for an oral ulcer will be dependent upon the location, severity, and frequency of the lesion, with oral surgery being performed as necessary. Mouthrinses, topical anesthetics, and antibiotics may be recommended to manage the symptoms of an otherwise benign ulcer.
In comparison to an oral ulcer, a fissure represents a deep groove or crack in the soft tissues, rather than a loss of the top layer of tissue. This includes cracks in the corners of the mouth (angular cheilosis), deep grooves in the tongue (fissured tongue), excessive folds of tissue along the edge of a denture, and the fissured variety of squamous cell carcinoma. It will be important to have these types of lesions assessed and the causes identified. In most cases, the symptoms will be managed accordingly, including the possibility of oral surgery when indicated.
Schedule an appointment with our dual degree oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Steven Koos, today to properly investigate your oral ulcers and fissures.