Mouth Cancer Awareness: Everything You Need to Know

5 December 2023

At Pateley Bridge Dental Practice, we’re dedicated to much more than just creating beautiful smiles. We’re just as committed to your overall well-being. Which is why in this blog we’d like to talk about a serious subject: mouth cancer. We’ll let you know the symptoms you should be looking out for, common causes and risk factors, and why your regular dental check-ups offer much more than just protection for your teeth.

What is Mouth Cancer?

Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, is a serious condition that arises when cells in the mouth begin to grow uncontrollably leading to the formation of a malignant tumour. It can affect various parts of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums and the inside of the cheeks. It can also extend to the throat and the neck. Early detection is key to successful treatment – and that’s why it’s so important to know what to look out for.

Recognising the Symptoms

Mouth cancer often develops under the radar. Being aware of the signs and symptoms is vital in catching the disease in the early stages. Some of the indicators to watch out for include:

Persistent Sores and Ulcers: The presence of sores or ulcers in the mouth that don’t follow the typical healing process and are often accompanied by pain.

Unexplained Pain: Discomfort in the mouth, throat, or tongue that persists for more than a few weeks.

Swallowing Difficulties: If you experience discomfort or difficulties when swallowing, it might indicate an underlying problem.

Speech Changes: Changes in your speech, such as slurred speech or difficulty pronouncing words.

Lumps or Bumps: You should pay close attention to any unusual lumps or bumps in your mouth, neck, or throat. Especially if they don’t disappear within a few weeks.

Unexplained Weight Loss: Sudden and unexplained weight loss can be another warning sign. So, if you’re losing weight without trying, it’s worth getting checked out.

Numbness or Sensation Loss: If you experience numbness in your mouth, lips or face, it could be related to nerve damage which could be caused by oral cancer.

However, it’s important to remember that these symptoms may be caused by many other health issues and may be unrelated to mouth cancer. But if you experience any of these symptoms you should always seek medical advice.

Common Causes of Mouth Cancer

While anyone can develop this condition, certain factors may increase your risk:

Tobacco Use: Smoking and chewing tobacco expose your mouth to harmful carcinogens, significantly increasing the risk of mouth cancer. If you are a tobacco user, quitting can significantly reduce your risk.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Heavy alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for mouth cancer. When combined with smoking, the risk is even greater.

Dietary Factors: A diet low in fruits and vegetables and high in processed foods may elevate the risk of mouth cancer. Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants, on the other hand, can help protect against developing cancer.

Sun Exposure: Prolonged sun exposure can increase the risk of lip cancer. To reduce this risk, use lip balm with sunscreen and consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat when in the sun for extended periods.

Age and Gender: Mouth cancer is more common in individuals over the age of 40 and is also more prevalent in men.

Family History: If you have a family history of cancer, especially oral cancer, you may be at higher risk of developing the condition yourself.


Why are Regular Check-Ups so Important?

Seeing your dentist regularly is about so much more than simply inspecting and protecting your teeth. Early detection is a vital factor in the successful treatment of mouth cancer. Which is why when you come for a check-up at Pateley Bridge Dental, our experienced team will also conduct a comprehensive examination of your complete oral health.

Lip Examination: We’ll thoroughly examine your lips for any unusual lumps, discolorations, or changes in texture. It’s a straightforward yet vital step in detecting early signs of mouth cancer.

Mouth Examination: We’ll inspect for signs of cancer inside your mouth, such as ulcers, sores, white or red patches and any unusual growths.

Gum Examination: Good gum health is crucial for more than just your teeth health. We’ll check your gums for signs of inflammation, discoloration, or abnormal bleeding, which could indicate gum disease, or in some cases, oral cancer.

Tongue Inspection: We’ll look at the top, sides, and underside for any changes in colour, texture, or the presence of lumps. The tongue is a common site for the development of mouth cancer, so it’s something we keep a close eye on.

Palate Examination: The roof of your mouth is examined for any abnormalities, including growths or patches that could indicate mouth cancer. This area can often also show early signs of the condition.

Throat and Neck Assessment: Our team will assess your throat and neck for swelling, tenderness, or any unusual masses.

Jaw and Face Inspection: We’ll inspect the jaw and face for signs of asymmetry or pain that could be related to mouth cancer.

These thorough checks are simple and painless to perform, and you often wont even know we’re doing them. They’re the best way we can spot any signs or symptoms of oral cancer at the earliest possible stage. It’s why your ‘routine’ check-up is anything but routine – and should never be missed if at all possible.


Mouth cancer is a serious issue, but knowing the risk factors, what to look out for, and seeing your dentist regularly are some of the most important things you can do to help protect yourself.

And remember, early detection is the key to successful treatment. So, if you’re concerned about any aspect of your oral health, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Pateley Bridge Dental today.