Lorne Park Dental

1151 Lorne Park Road, Mississauga, ON (Find Our Practice)

Oral Cancer Self-Exam: How to check your mouth between dental visits

Posted in Dental Tips

Oral Cancer Self-Exam:  How to check your mouth between dental visits

Learn here about oral cancer risk factors, signs and symptoms.  Know what's normal and be alert for changes in your mouth by doing a regular oral cancer self-exam. 

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Betel quid and areca nut
  • Previous cancer
  • Family history of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
  • Sun exposure
  • Diet low in vegetables and fruit
  • Weakened immune system
  • Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)
  • Lichen planus
  • Poor oral health
  • Inherited conditions

Top 7 Risk Factors for Oral Cancer - American Dental Association

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer often causes symptoms at an early stage.  Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as oral cancer.

The most common symptom of oral cancer is an ulcer or sore in the mouth or on the lip that doesn't heal.  Another common symptom of oral cancer is pain in the mouth that doesn't go away. 

  • a sore that doesn't heal
  • pain in the mouth that doesn't go away
  • a sore that bleeds
  • tongue pain
  • white patches, red patches or mixed red and white patches on the lips or in the mouth
  • a lump or growth on the lips, in the mouth or on the tongue
  • thickening of the inner cheek lining 
  • earache that doesn't go away
  • loose teeth
  • dentures that no longer fit
  • slurred speech
  • voice changes
  • swollen salivary glands
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck 
  • numbness or loss of sensation over the tongue or lips
  • jaw pain or stiffness
  • difficult or painful swallowing
  • difficult or painful chewing
  • weight loss    

Get to know your mouth and how to check it for early signs of oral cancer:

Learn the parts of the mouth, oral cavity with this diagram

View this video to learn how to do an Oral Cancer Self-Exam:


Resources and Links:

Canadian Cancer Society





Mayo Clinic


Canadian Dental Hygienists Association



Canadian Dental Association


National Cancer Institute - 


Smiley toothA self-exam for oral cancer is quick, easy and definitely worthwhile!  Our Lorne Park Dental team does a complete oral cancer screen at all new patient examinations and routinely, at all dental hygiene appointments.  Between visits, please keep an eye on your mouth and contact us if you notice a change that lasts two weeks or more.  It's never a bother.  If you have a concern, please contact us!

Keep your smile healthy and bright! Book an appointment with Lorne Park Dental.