Should I be Worried About Oral Cancer Symptoms?  

With oral cancer becoming more and more prevalent, it is frightening to see a dark spot on your gums.  Penny's question is a good one.  

Penny's question

Do I have oral cancer symptoms? 

A small flap of skin on my gum where my tooth broke off has turned almost black in a day...should I be worried about oral cancer?

I have horrible teeth, and have been battling them most of my life.

And in the last year I lost my job and no longer have insurance and cannot afford to go to the dentist.

So, I had a molar that has rotted to the point that It broke off below the gum line and still no dentist would see me without $500 up front.

Anyway, where I lost the tooth, there was a small flap of skin from my gum, that remained loose, and never attached.

Today while brushing my teeth, I noticed that it resembled a mole more now (small and round ball shaped the size of a BB) attached by a small almost string of skin and that it has turned almost black.

Should I be worried?

My reply

Hi Penny, I'm sorry about your tooth.

Two big oral cancer risk factors are tobacco and alcohol use. 

Most oral cancer looks either white or red and is ulcerated. It looks like a sore that doesn't heal and can be any size.


Lumps, bumps, or swollen areas or changes in color or texture that show up out of the blue and don't heal are another reason for concern and should be checked by your dentist. 

Oral cancer occurs most often on the sides of your tongue and floor of your mouth.

The vestibule or space between the front side of your teeth and your lips is another common place for oral cancer to occur in those who chew tobacco.


It's impossible to know for sure, but what you are describing sounds like a traumatic injury to your gum tissue. The broken tooth probably has some sharp edges that injured your gums. 

Keep an eye on the area. It's always best to have anything that doesn't heal in a week or two checked by your dentist. There are dentists who would look at your tooth (or gum) for less than $500!

Dental schools are a great option for affordable dental treatment.  If you can't find a dentist or dental school, ask your physician to check it.

Oral cancer symptoms are something we should all be aware of. It's great that you are very aware of changes in your mouth. Early detection is so important. 

Be sure to have the area checked if it does not heal in 2 weeks.

~Shelly

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