At Trillium Dental, we include oral cancer screenings as part of our general dentistry appointments. Our dentists strive to provide the best dental care for all of our patients, and for us, that means taking a comprehensive approach to your family’s dental care. When you schedule a checkup at one of our eight dental clinics in Ottawa, we’ll provide a thorough teeth cleaning and flossing, as well as dental x-rays (if you’re due) and an oral cancer screening during your appointment. That being said, here are the signs of oral cancer that our dentists look for.


A common sign of oral cancer is one or more lumps in the mouth, lips, or gums. Often, patients who have early-stage mouth cancer don’t notice this symptom until it is pointed out by their family dentist, which is why we feel your cheeks, neck, and jaw area during your dental checkups. However, many of them do notice this symptom when their mouth tissue begins to thicken or swell, or if rough spots appear in or around the mouth cavity. Whatever the case, if you notice that something is off with your oral tissue, it’s best to visit your local dental office right away for a thorough dental exam.


Another common symptom of oral cancer is white or red patches appearing in the mouth. These growths will look and feel velvety, which certainly isn’t normal for a healthy oral cavity. If you see any of these mouth patches cropping up, it’s important not to fuss with them and get yourself to your family dental clinic as soon as possible. Our dentists would be more than happy to take a closer look to assess whether or not the patches are an indication of oral cancer. If we suspect that they are, we’ll refer you to an oral cancer specialist so you can get the appropriate treatment.


Mouth bleeding is normal in some cases, like after wisdom teeth removal. However, unexplained bleeding in the mouth is a cause for concern, especially if you are experiencing any other symptoms of mouth or throat cancer. Do not ignore this symptom and visit your local dentist as soon as possible if you are bleeding from the mouth for no apparent reason.


Sometimes, people with oral cancer experience unexplained numbness in their face, neck, or mouth. While this is not normal and should be addressed right away, try to remain calm and get in touch with your family dental office as soon as possible. Loss of feeling is a fairly common symptom of oral cancer, and our dentists can determine whether or not you should be worried.


People who are suffering from oral cancer often develop sores on their face and neck, as well as mouth ulcers (on the cheek tissue, gums, tongue, and the roof of their mouth). These sores tend to bleed easily and do not heal, warranting a visit to the dentist if they do not subside in two weeks. Patients may also experience a sore throat, hoarseness (raspy voice), or the sensation that something is stuck in the back of their throat. Any of these symptoms may be an indication of a growth or patch of oral cancer that has developed in the throat.


Often, people notice the signs of oral cancer when they eat. It is not uncommon for people with throat or mouth cancer to experience pain when chewing and swallowing, as well as difficulty moving the jaw and tongue. Some people also notice that their teeth don’t fit together as well as they used to, and that they have persistent bad breath. It is important to pay attention to these signs and visit your dentist for an oral exam, rather than brushing it off and waiting for other symptoms to arise.


Sudden weight loss is a common sign of many different types of cancer, including lymphoma and oral cancer. Alone, this symptom can be indicative of lots of different health conditions, but if you are experiencing any of the other symptoms we’ve mentioned, it’s definitely worth a trip to the dentist.


Though the symptoms of oral cancer can crop up suddenly, there are several things you can do to prevent the onset of throat and mouth cancer. Steering clear of tobacco products is an easy one, as is limiting alcohol consumption. Another thing you can do to avoid developing oral cancer is to take good care of your teeth and gums by prioritizing oral hygiene at home and making regular trips to the dentist. If you are due for a routine dental exam, or you have noticed any of the symptoms listed above, we invite you to visit one of our dental offices in Ottawa for a thorough checkup. Thanks for choosing Trillium Dental — we hope to see you soon!