General Dentistry Tips – Common Signs of Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer Screening Sterling, VA

While oral cancer is a relatively rare disease, people should still be wary of the signs and symptoms of the condition. It has a relatively high mortality rate, with only 47% of diagnosed patients experiencing recovery. However, professionals have found that early diagnosis significantly increases the chances of remission. By knowing the warning signs, dental patients can help improve the odds of effective treatment through early detection.

Common warning signs of oral cancer

The physical symptoms of this type of cancer are vast and varied. Patients who notice any of the following conditions should seek immediate evaluation from a dental professional.

Visible changes

If the teeth begin to inexplicably change or shift, it may be a cause for concern. While gradual changes over time are normal for every mouth, sudden and noticeable differences should not be left to resolve on their own. A sudden looseness or change in alignment should be addressed right away.  

In some situations, a patient may develop scaly patches in various locations throughout the mouth. These can occur on the cheeks, tongue, lips or palate. Sores or spots that develop rough patches and become bumpy or scaly should be evaluated by a dentist.

Unexplained symptoms

Bleeding, swelling, some tingling and even occasional pain can be side effects of relatively benign conditions:

  • Excessive tooth decay
  • Periodontal disease
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders

These symptoms can also be caused by certain underlying conditions and even prescription medications. While all require dental treatment, there is generally no cause for alarm. However, if a patient experiences such problems for unexplained reasons, oral cancer may be to blame.

Sores that linger

Mouth sores are common for most dental patients. A simple cut, a vitamin deficiency or a common virus are typically to blame for these lesions, which usually heal on their own. However, a mouth sore that does not improve in 14 days should be taken seriously and requires prompt attention.

Changes in the throat

While oral cancer can involve the teeth, gums and surrounding tissues, it also includes certain cancers of the throat. If a patient experiences pain or difficulty swallowing, vocal changes or the presence of a lump or swollen area, a serious problem may be developing. Frequent sore throats or recurring bouts of laryngitis could also be a cause for concern.

Lowering the risks

Certain lifestyle choices can help significantly lower the risk of developing oral cancer. Tobacco use is still the leading cause of this disease and is 15 times more likely to lead to cancer when coupled with regular alcohol consumption. HPV16, a sexually transmitted strain of the human papillomavirus, has also been shown to increase the risk of developing certain types of oral cancer. Practicing safe habits and avoiding tobacco altogether can significantly lower the odds of developing this condition. 


Unexplained changes in the mouth that linger for more than two weeks may be a sign of oral cancer. Swift evaluation and treatment can make all the difference when battling this serious illness. Patients should practice healthy habits and consult a dental professional immediately if any warning signs surface.

Request an appointment here: or call Titan Dental Care at (703) 745-3227 for an appointment in our Sterling office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Oral Cancer Screening in Sterling, VA.

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