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Loose teeth could be a sign of mouth cancer – other signs to look for

Mouth cancer: What are the causes and symptoms?

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Each year more than 8,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with mouth cancer. Cases of mouth cancer have also increased by more than one third in the last decade, with a 40 percent increase in the number of deaths in the last 10 years. With this in mind a dentist shared some of the warning signs to look out for with

Doctor Parneet Sehmi, principal dentist at Hermes London Dental Clinic, said: “Mouth cancer can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

“With cases of mouth cancer alarmingly on the rise, it is important that people become more aware and alert to symptoms.

“Hopefully, with more people aware, we can do more to increase the chances of people catching the disease during an earlier stage.

“Early-stage mouth cancer symptoms can be subtle and painless, making it much harder to detect.

“It is also important to factor in the main risk factors that are a result of lifestyle choices, so that people have an informed awareness.”

Symptoms of mouth cancer

Mouth cancer can start in different parts of the mouth, including the lips, salivary glands, tongue, gums, palate and inside of the cheeks.

However, one sign of mouth cancer, according to Doctor Sehmi, is loose teeth.

Other common symptoms include:

  • A sore on the lip/mouth which doesn’t heal
  • Pain or discomfort inside the mouth
  • Pain or discomfort in the ear
  • A growth inside the mouth
  • Difficulty or discomfort when swallowing
  • A white or red patch on the inside of the mouth
  • Persistent hoarseness.

“It can take less than a minute to check your whole mouth, including the tongue, as well as the roof and floor of your mouth, gums and lips,” Doctor Sehmi added.

“Pay particular attention to the tongue, as one in three mouth cancers are found there.

“If you have any sores, lumps, or long-term ulcers in your mouth, no matter how small, it is very important that you book an appointment with your dentist to have it looked at.”

Risk factors

Around 90 percent of mouth cancers can be linked to preventable lifestyle factors, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Doctor Sehmi said: “Shockingly, recent statistics have found that awareness of the major risk factors relating to mouth cancer is as low as nine percent in UK adults.

“With cases skyrocketing in the UK, it is really important that more is done to help increase people’s awareness of not only the signs, but also the risk factors which can lead to mouth cancer.”


Smoking has been known to cause at least 15 types of cancer, with around two in every three mouth cancers linked to smoking.

Regular smokers are advised to visit their dentists for a mouth cancer screening on a more regular basis, and to read more on smoking cessation.


Excessive alcohol consumption can also have a detrimental impact on a person’s oral health, especially as it is linked to 30 percent of all mouth cancers.

Smoking and drinking together can further increase the risk of mouth cancer, which is why it is recommended that people be careful of how much alcohol they are consuming.


Doctor Sehmi commented: “Around a third of mouth cancers are linked to an unhealthy diet that has an insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals.

“Having a healthy, balanced diet is not only important for a person’s overall health, but it is also extremely important for a person’s oral health.”

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