THE ANATOMY OF THE ORAL CAVITY illustrated by Dr. Derma
Unlike internal organs, which are not visible externally because they are located under the skin, the oral cavity is a visible organ … but do we really know the anatomy of the oral cavity?
Read to verify!
- At the forefront we find the MOUTH, the gateway to the digestive and respiratory systems.
Its interior is covered by the ORAL MUCOSA, which is a richly vascularized and innervated membrane that covers the inside of the lips, cheeks and the lower part of the dental arches. A healthy mucosa takes on a color ranging from pink / reddish in people with fair skin, and a variable color between shades of brown / black in people with darker skin. The MUCOSA MEMBRANE proceeds towards the outside of the mouth lining the lips until it merges with the skin of the face.
The mucosa is paved with different layers of EPITHELIUM and, based on the structural differences as well as the functional requirements of the respective areas, it is distinguished in:
-> ORAL COVERING MUCOSA is located in the soft palate, the lower surface of the tongue, the floor of the oral cavity and the alveolar processes of the maxilla and mandible (excluding the gums). This particular mucosa is characterized by a non-cornified keratinized epithelium resting on a layer of connective tissue that is sufficiently elastic to guarantee the flexibility necessary for the articulatory and swallowing phonetic function.
-> MASTICATORY MUCOSA appears in areas most subject to mechanical forces such as gums and hard palate, therefore requiring a denser fibrous connective tissue.
-> SPECIALIZED MUCOSA which covers the anterior part of the tongue, seat of the lingual papillae, and is characterized by cornified and non-cornified keratinized epithelium.
- The PALATE, the top of the mouth, is divided into two parts. The front is furrowed and hard (hard palate). The back is relatively smooth and soft (soft palate) and ends in a thin muscular structure called the uvula that hangs vertically.
- The TONGUE, a muscular organ responsible for mixing and swallowing food, is located on the floor of the mouth and has a surface full of very small protrusions called papillae.
The lingual papillae, taste buds in common speech, are small neuroepithelial structures located on the upper surface of the tongue, in the upper larynx and in the posterior part of the oropharynx.
Their fundamental function is to perceive the flavors of ingested foods, flavors that can be felt particularly in specific areas (although they are perceptible all over the tongue).
Positioning of taste sensors:
– Tip of the tongue -> SWEET TASTE
– Lateral and dorsal areas of the tongue -> SALTY TASTE
– Margins and sublingual area -> ACID TASTE
– Back of the tongue -> BITTER and UMAMI TASTE
The taste receptors work in combination with the salivary glands which, through SALIVA, contribute to the chewing, formation and swallowing of the food bolus. Saliva, in fact, intervenes by wrapping the food introduced with digestive enzymes that start digestion directly in the mouth and thus favoring the sliding of the food parts along the esophagus. After eating, the saliva secretion drives away the bacteria responsible for dental caries and other ailments. Saliva also keeps the oral mucosa intact and prevents the loss of minerals from the teeth.
- The PERIODONTAL LIGAMENT is the structure that is placed between the root of the tooth and the alveolar bone, guaranteeing the elasticity essential to distribute the masticatory forces over a wider surface of the alveolar process. In fact, the teeth are not immobilized inside the bone, they are anchored to the periodontium in such a way as to maintain the flexibility necessary to cushion the stresses caused by chewing – in the absence of this “adaptability” to movements, the teeth would fracture.
- UPPER AND LOWER DENTAL ARCH housed respectively in the maxilla (the first) and in the mandible (the second). In total there are 32 teeth in our mouth, divided into:
– 8 incisors
– 4 canines
– 8 premolars
― 12 molars (including 4 wisdom teeth)
The DENTAL COLLAR is that part of the tooth between the crown and the root, around which the margin of the gum develops. The collar is a very important area, because bacterial plaque tends to accumulate in its sulcus, therefore its cleaning requires particular attention to avoid the onset of infections, periodontitis and other symptoms.
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