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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I differentiate between oral herpes, cancer sores and mouth ulcers?

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  • 7


    Jaffar Dental - Trusted and Established since 1997. We are a family owned General Dental Practice offering a friendly and caring environment in Waterford QLD. … View Profile

    Very difficult to give accurate descriptions of appearance of each as their is a lot of variation. This is best diagnosed by an experienced professional dentist or oral pathologist.

  • 6


    Qualification : BDSc, Bachelor of Dental Science, University of Western Australia 1994 View Profile

    Oral herpes usually occur around the outside of lips. They are often painful,burning and itchy. They usually change visibly from blisters/ulcers to crust formation.
    Person develops a fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph glands and can have sore throat,difficulty swallowing. Gums may be swollen and bleed readily
    Generally resolves and the area returns to normal in 2-3 weeks with medication.

    Mouth Ulcers are usually found inside the mouth. Commonly in inner lip mucosa, inner cheek mucosa , base of gums and tongue.
    They can vary in size from 2-3mm in diameter to much larger areas around 10mm in diameter
    Often painful.
    Generally resolves and area return to normal in 1-2 weeks

    Cancer sores may or may not be painful. They can affect small or large areas. The most common areas are on mucosal areas of lip, tongue and floor of mouth. This ulcer does not heal and bleeding may be common.
    They must be confirmed by pathological tests- biopsy, radiographs, CT scans, MRI
    Risk is higher in smokers, heavy alcohol consumption.

  • 5


    Herpes sores are caused by an infection of the herpes virus and the sores can re-erupt after a period of stress. Canker sores is another name for apthous ulcers which may be caused by  allergies such as allergy to tomatoes or chocolate (the common cause being an allergy to mono-amines in food.) Other  ulcers can result from cheek or lip biting (often caused by denture teeth with sharp edges)  or other trauma such as a burn from hot food or drink or a scratch from a toothbrush bristle. Canker sores have nothing whatsoever to do with cancer.

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