Structure of the oral cavity

Oral cavity

The oral cavity is limited by the palate, the base of the mouth, the cheeks and the lips as well as by the uvula and the palatine arches on each side of the uvula.

The interior of the oral cavity is subdivided by the rows of teeth in the upper or lower jaw: the actual oral cavity (cavum oris) is the frontal and lateral area enclosed by the teeth and is largely taken up by the tongue. The area between the tooth rows and the lips or cheeks is called the oral vestibule (vestibulum oris). According to the Latin terms the directional names are “oral” ("towards the oral cavity") and “vestibular” ("towards the oral vestibule").

The entire oral cavity is lined by the mucosa and is kept moist by the saliva produced by the salivary glands. The mucosa contains sense receptors for temperature and tactile sense. The mucosa of the tongue's surface also contains the taste receptors.

The transition from the movable mucosa of the lips or cheeks into the movable mucosa of the alveolar process is also called the vestibular fold. In the cheek area, individual mucosal folds are positioned towards the alveolar process and are called the buccal frenum (frenulum buccale). One labial frenulum (frenulum labii) radiates into the mucosa of the alveolar process from each of the mucosa of the upper and lower lips.

The movable mucosa in the area around the rows of teeth merges into the gums (gingiva) attached to the jaw bone.