How to Check for Early Stages of Mouth Cancer | Smile Stories

How to Check for Early Stages of Mouth Cancer

Shout Out for Mouth Cancer Action Month November 2022 

Keeping your mouth healthy by taking care of your teeth and gums is simple if you follow some daily rules. But even if you brush and floss twice a day, but do you check your mouth for signs of cancer at the same time? In November 2020, the Oral Health Foundation launched Mouth Cancer Action Month, but it is rarely publicised and the risk of mouth cancer still fails to attract attention in the media. 

An alarming percentage of mouth cancers are diagnosed late, and when they reach stages three to five, it dramatically reduces the success of treatment and survival rates. We are here to help raise awareness about recognising the early stages of mouth cancer and how to check for signs — because catching it earlier could just save your life!

Ten Signs of Early Stages of Mouth Cancer

Spotting the signs and receiving a mouth cancer diagnosis in the early stages is not just an essential factor when it comes to survival, but it is also critical for a normal life after treatment. The best way to do this is to get into the habit of always checking your mouth after you brush your teeth before bed when you are not in a rush or distracted. Here are some signs to look out for:

  1. Mouth ulcers and lips sores that have not healed after three weeks
  2. Red or white patches on your gums, inside your mouth, or on your tongue
  3. Lumps or sore patches inside your cheeks or mouth
  4. Lumps or swelling around the neck or face
  5. Pain or numb areas on your face or neck
  6. Numb or reduced sensation in the lips or tongue
  7. Chronic hoarseness and a feeling of something stuck in your throat
  8. Pain when chewing or difficulty swallowing
  9. Chronic bad breath
  10. Persistent ear pain or earache.

Your Dentist Can Help Diagnose Mouth Cancer

You might not realise that when you have a dental check-up, your dentist will also check for signs of mouth cancer.

“As dentists, we care about our clients’ overall health, and we will always look for early stages of mouth cancer when we perform a check-up. If bad breath is an issue and there is no sign of gum disease or tooth decay, my advice is to speak with your GP without delay.” — Gareth Edwards BDS, Principal Dentist and Co-Owner of Smile Stories.

What Increases the Risk of Mouth Cancer?

According to Cancer Research UK, increased risk of mouth cancer is linked to three main causes:

  1. Smoking – The risk of developing all types of cancers increases if you smoke, but mouth and oropharyngeal cancer are 25% more common if you smoke.
  1. Alcohol – Drinking is associated with around a whopping 35% of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer.
  1. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – HPV-positive mouth and oropharyngeal cancer are approximately 25% of oropharyngeal cancer cases that are diagnosed.  

Replacing Lost Teeth after Mouth Cancer 

Mouth cancer treatment can be very traumatic, especially when you require reconstructive surgery or loose teeth. Finding a skilled aesthetic dentist that can advise on the best next steps can be difficult. There are various options if you have lost teeth, including:

  • Individual dental implants — These are separate implants that replace single teeth. They can replace one or multiple teeth.
  • All-on-4 and All-on-6 dental implants — These are implants that replace multiple teeth in a row. They are often an option if your jawbone is not strong enough to hold multiple individual implants. 
  • Implant-supported bridge — This is another option when there are several missing teeth in a row, and the jaw bone is weak.
  • Tooth-supported bridge —When you have healthy teeth at either end of missing teeth, you can have a tooth-supported bridge which is permanently fixed in place to crowns that are placed over the healthy teeth at either end. As there are no implants involved, this may be preferred after undergoing treatment and surgery.  

Once you have healed from your surgery, there are many ways we can help you at Smile Stories, the cosmetic dentists in Bournemouth. Simply send us six pictures of your teeth and book your FREE VIDEO CONSULTATION here!


Dr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) qualified from university with honours. Working in the Bournemouth & Poole area, he’s passionate about orthodontics, minimally invasive dentistry and is a certified Invisalign provider.

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