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Anatomy of Your Mouth and Throat

There are two main parts of your mouth and upper throat: the oral cavity and the oropharynx.

Anatomy of the Mouth
Anatomy of the Mouth (Click to Enlarge)

The Oral Cavity

The oral cavity, or the mouth, includes many parts, including:

  • The lips

  • The lining inside your cheeks

  • The tongue

  • The salivary glands, which make saliva

  • The gums and teeth

  • The floor of your mouth, which is under your tongue

  • The roof, or hard palate, of your mouth

The Throat

Your throat is composed of three parts: the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and laryngopharynx. The oropharynx is located at the very back of your mouth. It includes your tonsils and the bands of tissue around the tonsils, the soft part of the roof of the mouth (soft palate), the back third of the tongue and the rear wall of the throat.

What to Look for

While looking in your mouth say "Ahh" to lower the tongue and give you a view of the oropharynx. Look in your mouth and keep an eye out for small sores or tiny red or white spots inside or around your mouth and throat. Oral cancer can affect any part of the oral cavity or throat. Other signs of oral cancer include lumps, pain, tenderness, and trouble chewing or speaking. If you see anything suspicious, see your dentist for an oral cancer screening.

“What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer.” National Cancer Institute. December 23, 2009. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/oral Accessed 2013.

“Oral Cancer.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/o/oral-cancer.aspx Accessed 2013.

"The mouth and oropharynx." Cancer Research UK. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/mouth-cancer/about/the-mouth-and-oropharynx#oropharynx. Accessed 2013.

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