Common Signs of Oral Cancer

Common Signs of Oral Cancer

During routine exams, dentists usually perform some type of oral cancer screening. With over 50,000 people getting diagnosed with it yearly, it is a serious health concern, especially for adults over 60. As its name suggests, oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, tonsils, and throat. 

Since early diagnosis and treatment can be critical, don’t just depend on your dentist to catch it. It’s essential to recognize the signs of oral cancer so that you can get immediate help. 

Red or White Sore

In the early stages of oral cancer, a red or white patch can appear in your mouth on the gums, tonsils, or mouth lining. It often looks like a small, round white spot surrounded by a red, inflamed area that won’t heal, even after two weeks. The sore bleeds easily and is thicker and harder than a canker sore.

Swelling or Lump

Like with other cancers, an oral cancer tumor can present as a swelling or lump, often in the neck or cheek. It can give people the sensation of having something stuck in their throat.

Bad Breath

Another possible symptom of oral cancer is persistent bad breath or halitosis. The tumor outgrows its blood supply, forms an ulcer, and becomes infected with bacteria. The bacteria creates a foul smell that remains even after regular brushing. Bad breath that continues for more than two and a half weeks merits a visit to your dentist. 

Continual Pain

Pain is always a sign that something is wrong. It is common to experience ear, jaw, throat, and tongue pain. Growths on the tongue can be extremely painful, and swallowing can become difficult. Ear pain, when on just one side, can also signal the presence of oral cancer because it is so close to the nerves in your mouth. 

Loose Teeth

Usually, loose teeth happen due to trauma or advanced gum disease. However, if you notice loose teeth and no apparent cause, it could be a sign of oral cancer. Have your dentist examine you immediately to begin treatment as soon as possible.


Unfortunately, oral cancer strikes thousands of adults yearly, despite regular dental hygiene. For early diagnosis and treatment, it’s crucial to know the signs of oral cancer, such as hard sores, bad breath, and continual pain in the mouth and throat. Don’t hesitate to see a professional if you have any of these symptoms. 

We are here to answer any questions and help you in every way!