According to the American Dental Association, oral cancer is divided into two categories. The first category is the kind that occurs inside the mouth, which includes the under part of the lips, inside the cheeks, the gums, the front of the tongue and the bottom and roof the of the mouth. The second category is the kind that occurs in the middle region of the throat, also known as the oropharynx, which includes the tonsils and the base of the tongue. Early detection results in more effective treatment so it’s very important to see your dentist at the first sign of any symptoms. Here are some early warning signs of oral cancer to watch out for.

Sores That Don’t Heal

Canker sores and blisters commonly occur in the mouth and are not a serious issue as long as they heal. If you have an open sore in your mouth that has lasted more than a week or so, get it checked out by your dentist right away.

Patchy Gums

Red or white speckled patches that appear on your gums can be an early sign of oral cancer. If you notice patches on your gums or the inside of your lips, mention it to your dentist.

Pain or Numbness

If your mouth starts to feel chronically sore and you experience numbing sensations, as if you’ve received a shot of Novocain, tell your dentist right away.


Lumps in the mouth don’t necessarily point to cancer, but if these lumps start to get bigger or crust over in certain areas, see your dentist right away.

Difficulty Chewing, Swallowing or Speaking

If it seems like you’re putting more effort into chewing, swallowing or speaking, or if it hurts to do any of these things, talk to your doctor or dentist right away.

If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment with Dr. Zola Makrauer or Dr. Julie Miller at Huntingdon Valley Dental Arts right away.