One of the less-mentioned benefits of regular dental and orthodontic care is increased likelihood of early detection of mouth cancer. As with other types of cancer, the prognosis for mouth cancer—also known as oral cancer—is much better with early diagnosis. And for this reason, it’s also important to be familiar with the common signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.
Around 35,000 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year just in the US. And early detection increases the chances of survival by about 80 to 90 percent!
Mouth cancer, by the way, is a catch-all term for any cancer affecting the lips, tongue, gums, inner lining of the cheek, roof of the mouth, or bottom of the mouth below the tongue. These are all part of a larger category known as head and neck cancers.
So, keep up with your oral hygiene appointments. Having a medical professional inspecting your mouth is a great method of screening. But if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms of mouth cancer, consult your oral healthcare professional right away.
But just to clarify: Don’t freak out! These warning signs can point to other conditions besides oral cancer, some of which are more likely.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer
- A sore in your mouth or on your lip that doesn’t heal within 2 weeks
- A lump or other growth inside your mouth
- A white, red, or other discolored patch inside your mouth
- Rough or crusty spots on your lips, gums, or inside of your mouth
- Thickening of the lining of your cheek
- Teeth becoming loose
- Numbness inside your mouth
- Unexplained mouth, jaw, or ear pain
- Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing or pain while swallowing
- Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
- Jaw swelling
- Chronic bad breath