Anatomy of the oral cavity

Anatomy of the oral cavityAnatomical features of the oral cavity. Functions of the oral cavity. Blood supply and innervation of the oral cavity
~ 3 min

In this note, we will consider the anatomy of the initial part of the digestive tract, called the oral cavity (cavitas oris).

Oral cavity (cavitas oris)
Oral cavity (cavitas oris)
Oral cavity (cavitas oris)
Oral cavity (cavitas oris)

Due to the presence of organs such as salivary glands, teeth, and tongue in the oral cavity and adjacent tissues, the food may be ground, mixed and moistened with saliva.

The oral cavity has the following borders:

  • The hard and soft palate are the superior border
Hard palate (palatum durum)
Hard palate (palatum durum)
Hard palate (palatum durum)
Hard palate (palatum durum)
  • The cheeks are the lateral borders
Cheeks (bucca)
Cheeks (bucca)
  • The muscles (the so-called “floor of the oral cavity”) are the inferior border
Mylohyoid muscle (musculus mylohyoideus)
Mylohyoid muscle (musculus mylohyoideus)
  • Inferiorly, the oral cavity is connected to the pharynx via the wide opening called the fauces (fauces)
Fauces (fauces)
Fauces (fauces)

Anteriorly, the oral cavity is delimited by the lips. These are the upper lip (labium superius) and the lower lip (labium inferius)

Upper lip (labium superius)
Upper lip (labium superius)
Lower lip (labium inferius)
Lower lip (labium inferius)

These are the folds made of skin and muscles, and the buccolabial muscular group lies at the base of these folds. There are three sections of the lip:

  1. Mucous section
  2. Transitional section (or the so-called vermilion border)
  3. Cutaneous section

Laterally, the lips are fused by a labial commissure (comissura labiorum)

Labial commissure (comissura labiorum)
Labial commissure (comissura labiorum)

The oral cavity is divided into two parts:

  • The oral vestibule (vestibulum oris)
Oral vestibule (vestibulum oris)
Oral vestibule (vestibulum oris)
  • The oral cavity proper (cavitas oris propria)
Oral cavity proper (cavitas oris propria)
Oral cavity proper (cavitas oris propria)

They are separated from each other by the alveolar processes of the jaws, gingivae (or gums), and teeth.

Mandibular dental arcade (arcus dentalis mandibularis)
Mandibular dental arcade (arcus dentalis mandibularis)
Maxillary dental arcade (arcus dentalis maxillaris)
Maxillary dental arcade (arcus dentalis maxillaris)

In turn, the gums are the alveolar processes of the jaws covered with soft tissues and mucous membrane.

Gingiva or gums (gingiva)
Gingiva or gums (gingiva)

In the oral vestibule, at the level of the second upper molar tooth, the excretory duct of the parotid salivary gland (ductus parotideus) opens in the mucous membrane of the cheek.

Excretory duct of the parotid salivary gland (ductus parotideus)
Excretory duct of the parotid salivary gland (ductus parotideus)
Excretory duct of the parotid salivary gland (ductus parotideus)
Excretory duct of the parotid salivary gland (ductus parotideus)

The muscular diaphragm of the oral cavity (or the so-called floor of the oral cavity) is represented by mylohyoid and geniohyoid muscles, which are covered by a mucous membrane from the inside.

Mylohyoid muscles (m. mylohyoideus)
Mylohyoid muscles (m. mylohyoideus)
Geniohyoid muscles (m. geniohyoideus)
Geniohyoid muscles (m. geniohyoideus)

At the bottom of the oral cavity at the margin of the tongue, there are paired sublingual folds (plural – plicae sublinguales; singular – plica sublingualis).

Sublingual folds (plicae sublinguales)
Sublingual folds (plicae sublinguales)

The anterior closed part of these folds has an elevation called the sublingual caruncle (caruncula sublingualis), on which the excretory ducts of the submandibular and sublingual salivary glands open.

Sublingual caruncle (caruncula sublingualis)
Sublingual caruncle (caruncula sublingualis)

The cheek (bucca) is the lateral wall of the oral cavity, it has the buccinator muscle as its base.

Cheek (bucca)
Cheek (bucca)

Between the skin and the muscle, there is the buccal fat pad (corpus adiposum buccae).

Buccal fat pad (corpus adiposum buccae)
Buccal fat pad (corpus adiposum buccae)

It is also called Bichat’s fat pad, and it is especially well-developed in children.

Blood supply

The branches of the external carotid artery (a. carotis externa) supply the oral cavity with arterial blood.

External carotid artery (a. carotis externa)
External carotid artery (a. carotis externa)

Venous drainage

The external jugular vein (v. jugularis externa) drains venous blood from the oral cavity.

External jugular vein (v. jugularis externa)
External jugular vein (v. jugularis externa)

Innervation

It is innervated by the trigeminal, facial, glossopharyngeal, vagus, and sublingual nerves.

Dictionary

Anatomy of the oral cavity

digestive system
systema digestorium
lip
labium
oral cavity
cavitas oris
cheeks
buccae
tongue
lingua
pharynx
pharynx
oral cavity proper
cavitas oris
oral vestibule
vestibulum oris
oral cavity proper
cavitas oris propria
parotid duct
ductus parotideus
fauces
fauces
sublingual folds
plicae sublinguales
sublingual caruncle
caruncula sublingualis
gingivae (gums)
gingivae
upper lip
labium superius
lower lip
labium inferius
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