Introducing the oral cavity 

What is the oral cavity?

The mouth (or oral cavity) is the area between the lips and top of the throat (or oropharynx): 

Cancer can affect different parts of the mouth, including: 
  • front of the tongue

  • bottom of the mouth (under the tongue and above the lower jaw)

  • jaw bones 

  • upper and lower gums (gingiva)

  • lining of the lips and cheeks (buccal mucosa)

  • front of the top of the mouth (hard palate)

  • behind wisdom teeth ( retromolar trigone).

Although the lips are part of the mouth, cancers affecting the lip are more similar to skin cancer.

What does the oral cavity do?

The mouth (oral cavity) is important in everyday activities such as tasting, chewing and swallowing food, and talking. The tongue mainly helps with eating and making foods soft enough to swallow. It also helps talking. If the tongue cannot move properly, either because of loss of muscle from surgery, or getting stuck from scarring and limiting movement, then talking and the ability to eat can be affected greatly. The jaw bones help keep the shape of the face and gives a strong bony frame to allow room for chewing.

The oral cavity

Oral Cancer Diagram