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Oral Cancer Warning Signs

senior woman gives a thumbs up in the dental chair after a successful oral cancer screening

The earlier we catch oral cancer, the easier it is to cure it. That’s why oral cancer screenings at a dentist are so important. They are a preventative service and given each time you come in for a regular cleaning and exam. What are the warning signs of oral cancer?

Mouth Sores

You can get sores in your mouth for a few reasons, but if they don’t heal after two weeks, it could be a sign of oral cancer. Sometimes, you might be able to see the sore. If you just feel tenderness or irritation, pay attention to its healing progress.

Red and/or White Patches

If you notice red or white patches in your mouth that won’t go away, they could be precancerous. Red patches are called “erythroplakia,” while the white ones are “leukoplakia.” White patches on their own are often harmless, but we’ll still want to check them out.

Pain or Numbness in Your Mouth

Pain and numbness can have causes other than cancer, but we still want to find out what’s wrong. The discomfort can be anywhere in your mouth, throat, or even in your ears.


Swelling could have another cause (like a tooth infection), but we won’t know until we see you. If you notice swelling or lumps of any kind in your mouth or throat, please make an appointment as soon as you can.

Difficulty Swallowing or Moving Your Tongue/Jaw

If it becomes difficult to swallow, move your jaw, or eat and speak, that’s a sign something is wrong. You might feel scratchiness in your throat, too, or like there’s something stuck in your windpipe.

Oral Cancer Screenings at Trillium Dental in Portland, Oregon

At our office, Dr. White and the team check for these warning signs and others during routine exams. We know catching cancer or other problems as quickly as possible is essential, so you can always feel confident with our thorough screenings. If you have any questions about our services or want to book an appointment, please contact us today!

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