Anatomy of the oral cavity

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Anatomy of the Oral Cavity

Figure 1. Anterior view of the A external mouth and lips and arterial supply to the lips.
Figure 2. Inferior view of the maxilla.
Figure 3. Cross section of a tooth.
Figure 4. Lateral cross-section showing the A innervation of the lips B and teeth and gingiva.
Figure 5. A Innervation of the palatal gingiva and palate. Arterial supply of the palate.
Figure 6. A Arterial supply to the palate. Arterial supply of the teeth and gingiva.
Figure 7. Muscles of the soft palate, lateral view of the muscles of the soft palate. Posterior view of the pharynx with the posterior wall removed, and C tensor veli palatini isolated.
Figure 8. Venous drainage of the oral cavity.
Figure 9. Lateral cross-section of the oral cavity.
Tensor veli palatini
  • Scaphoid fossa of sphenoid bone
  • Auditory tube cartilage
  • Palatine aponeurosis
  • Mandibular nerve (CN V3)
  • Tenses soft palate
Levator veli palatini
  • Petrous part of the temporal bone
  • Auditory tube cartilage
  • Palatine aponeurosis
  • Pharyngeal plexus of vagus nerve (CN X)
  • Elevates soft palate
  • Palatine aponeurosis
  • Tongue
  • Depresses soft palate
  • Elevates tongue
  • Hard palate
  • Palatine aponeurosis
  • Wall of pharynx
  • Depresses soft palate
  • Elevates pharynx
Musculus uvulae
  • Posterior nasal spine of hard palate
  • Mucosa of the uvula
  • Shortens uvula

Memory Anchors and Partner Content


When you’re eating a slice of pizza, the first place food enters is the oral cavity and it is actually where digestion starts. Here, we get to taste the pizza and form a bolus of food to swallow for further digestion in the gut. Many structures work together to chew and swallow like the lips, teeth, and palate, so let’s explore them!

Now, the oral cavity itself is divided into the oral vestibule and the oral cavity proper. The vestibule is the compartment between the anterior and lateral aspects of the teeth and gingiva and the posterior and medial aspects of the lips and cheeks.

Moving further inside is the oral cavity proper, bounded by the dental arches anteriorly and laterally, and the palate superiorly. The oral cavity proper is mainly occupied by the tongue.

Now let’s get back to that slice of pizza. To eat it, first you open your mouth, and the opening through which the food enters is called the oral fissure.

Once the pizza’s inside the oral cavity, you use the lips, which act like valves, to keep the oral fissure closed and the food inside while you’re chewing. The lips, and the muscles within it, also help us exhale through the mouth, whistle, speak, or kiss.

Now, the lips extend from the nasolabial sulci and the nares to the mentolabial sulcus, which is just inferior to the lips, but not all of its surface looks the same.

The most remarkable feature is the part we’re actually used to calling “lips”: a thin, hairless, reddish skin, called the transitional zone, because it represents the transition between the skin of the face and the inner labial mucosa.


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