You've probably seen pictures of mouths with white patches caused by oral cancer. Many people assume that as long as they don't have these white patches, they don't have oral cancer. Sadly, that's not always the case. While white patches are one common symptom of oral cancer, you can develop oral cancer and only have other symptoms – but no white patches. Here's a look at some other symptoms that may indicate you have oral cancer. If you're suffering from any of these symptoms, make sure you see your doctor or dentist promptly.
Sores that don't heal.
Is there a patch in your mouth that always seems to bleed or get irritated easily? Maybe you've had a mouth sore in the same area for weeks or months. Cancer can impede healing, so this may be a sign of oral cancer. Sometimes the area may be raised or it may have a different texture than the rest of your mouth tissue, but other times, the only thing strange about it may be its propensity to soreness and poor healing.
Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
Oral cancer does not always just affect the visible tissues in your mouth. Sometimes, it can affect the muscles and connective tissues in your jaw, too. If you're having trouble chewing and swallowing, there are a huge array of possible causes – from a strained muscle to TMJ disorder. But since one possible cause is oral cancer, it's always wise to get checked out when you're suffering from this symptom.
A change in the way your teeth meet.
Have you noticed that your teeth no longer line up properly when you bite down? Maybe you're developing "buck teeth" or perhaps just the teeth on one side seem slightly out of place. Once again, there are many possible causes of this issue, so don't panic and automatically assume you have cancer because your teeth are out of line. You may very well have an impacted wisdom tooth, natural jaw deformation, or tooth grinding habit that's having this effect. But then again, there's a small chance your jaw is being pushed out of line by a cancerous growth, so it's worth your while to be extra cautious and seek a diagnosis.
Oral cancer is most common in smokers and those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, but it can happen even to non-smokers and non-drinkers. So no matter who you are, keep an eye out not only for white patches but also for the less-obvious oral cancer signs described above. Contact a local dentist, such as one from Parker Family Dental, for further assistance.