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Mouth

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Definition

The oral cavity includes the lips, hard palate (the bony front portion of the roof of the mouth), soft palate (the muscular back portion of the roof of the mouth), retromolar trigone (the area behind the wisdom teeth), front two-thirds of the tongue, gingiva (gums), buccal mucosa (the inner lining of the lips and cheeks), and floor of the mouth under the tongue.

Mouth
Mouth

Function

  • The mouth, or oral cavity, is the first part of the digestive tract.
  • It is adapted to receive food by ingestion, break it into small particles by mastication, and mix it with saliva.

Boundaries

The lips, cheeks, and palate form the boundaries.

Salivary secretions

The oral cavity contains the teeth and tongue and receives the secretions from the salivary glands.

Sagittal section of mouth
Sagittal section of mouth

Lips and Cheeks

The lips and cheeks help hold food in the mouth and keep it in place for chewing.

Role in speech

The mouth, tongue, cheeks, and vocal chords all play part in the formation of words for speech.

Testing texture of food

The lips contain numerous sensory receptors that are useful for judging the temperature and texture of foods.

3D Medical Animation Oral Cavity
3D Medical Animation Oral Cavity

Palate

  • The palate is the roof of the oral cavity.
  • It separates the oral cavity from the nasal cavity.
  • The anterior portion, the hard palate, is supported by bone.
  • The posterior portion, the soft palate, is skeletal muscle and connective tissue.
  • Posteriorly, the soft palate ends in a projection called the uvula.
  • During swallowing, the soft palate and uvula move upward to direct food away from the nasal cavity and into the oropharynx.
Examination of the oral cavity
Examination of the oral cavity

Tongue

The tongue manipulates food in the mouth and is used in speech. The surface is covered with papillae that provide friction and contain the taste buds.

Teeth

  • A complete set of deciduous (primary) teeth contains 20 teeth.
  • There are 32 teeth in a complete permanent (secondary) set.
  • The shape of each tooth type corresponds to the way it handles food.
Xerostomia - Dry Mouth
Xerostomia - Dry Mouth

Common problems

Common problems with the oral cavity include:

  • xerostomia or dry mouth - a lack of enough saliva, caused by some medicines and certain diseases
  • Gum or tooth problems such as gingivitis, tooth decay or dental caries
  • Cold sores - painful sores on the lips and around the mouth, caused by a virus
  • Canker sores - painful sores in the mouth, caused by bacteria or viruses
  • Thrush - a yeast infection that causes white patches in your mouth
  • Leukoplakia - white patches of excess cell growth on the cheeks, gums or tongue, common in smokers
  • Bad breath or halitosis

Latest research (Pubmed)

PubMed


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