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Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, is a potentially fatal condition that can affect any part of your oral cavity. It could be your lips, tongue, gums, salivary glands, floor of the mouth or the back of the throat. When it comes to oral cancer, it’s not just people who smoke or use tobacco who are at risk of this condition. Oral cancer can affect people of all ages which is why it’s never too early or too late to learn more about this deadly disease. By doing so and becoming more aware, you could possibly save your life! 

One of the best ways to combat oral cancer is to catch it early, but sometimes, the symptoms don’t visibly show until advanced stages have been reached which is why we conduct oral cancer screenings at Purity Dental.

Here are some of the most common symptoms to watch out for when it comes to oral cancer:

Sores that don’t heal

Do you have a sore that never seems to heal and disappear fully

? If your mouth sore doesn’t heal within 2 weeks or if you get them frequently, we recommend having it examined by a professional, as it may be a sign of oral cancer. Upon examination, they may request a biopsy, where tissue samples from the surrounding area and a part of the ulcer will be sent for examination and diagnosis. 

These ulcers can occur in areas such as your lips, cheeks, gums or tongue. If you notice shallow sores with a white or grey top and a red rim, we urge you not to ignore them, especially if you use tobacco products or drink alcohol excessively, as both these habits can increase your risk of mouth cancer.

Tissue coloration & lumps

If you notice the appearance of velvety white, red or atypical patterns that are visibly different to the rest of your inner mouth, this is a common warning sign of oral cancer.  You may even notice changes in the texture of your mouth’s tissues, including swellings, lumps or rough patches along your lips, gums and cheeks. Lumps that come and go are not signs of cancer. However, as with sores, if they won’t go away and continue to grow bigger, it could be because of cancer.

Pain & discomfort

Do you find it difficult to chew and swallow food or open your mouth? Or perhaps you are experiencing pain in the mouth that extends to your ear and unexplained bleeding, numbness and tenderness. If so, they are common warning signs of oral cancer. If this pain or discomfort doesn’t go away, you should get it checked as soon as possible.


Unusual patches on your mouth or throat are signs of oral cancer and can be painful at times. These patches can also be caused by thrush, a fungal infection. If these patches don’t go away even after anti-fungal treatment, they may be related to cancer. So, while they may not always be signs of cancer, it definitely doesn’t hurt to get it checked. 


Oral cancer can affect your voice, making it sound different than usual. As a result, your voice may sound husky, quiet or like you have a cold. You may also slur words and find it difficult to pronounce some sounds. 

Other Symptoms 

In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, you may also experience one or more of the following: 

  • Weight loss
  • Bad breath that gets worse
  • Loose teeth or sore gums
  • Altered taste 
  • Loss of sensation in your mouth  
  • A sore throat that persists

It’s important to get to know your own oral health and watch out for any irregularities for early detection and intervention. We strongly recommend seeing our dentist for yearly oral cancer screening- it might just save a life! At Purity Dental, we also perform an oral cancer check as part of your general check-up. So, if you are behind on your next checkup, call (03) 9540 8900 to schedule your appointment.