When it’s something more
Occasionally, a mouth sore is cancerous. Everyone should watch for signs of oral cancer, but it develops more often in people who are over 45, smoke or chew tobacco, drink heavily, or have a long history of sun exposure.
Any sore that doesn’t heal in two weeks, especially a white or dark-red patch on the gum or tongue, should be checked by a dental or health professional. Other signs to look for are lumps and thickening, difficulty swallowing, and bleeding.
The good news? Oral cancer can be cured when it’s caught early, so it’s important to follow up on any suspicious mouth sores. Odds are it’s something other than cancer. But if it’s not, you’ll be glad you got it checked out.