Mouth is the first part of the digestive system and the process of digestion also begins from here itself through chewing. This process is also known as oral cavity. The Mouth can also make modifications to the sounds that we produce. Sometimes Mouth also acts as the secondary respiratory organ, especially when we need more oxygen. Many accessory organs like the tongue, the teeth and the salivary glands play a crucial role in the digestion of food. Teeth chop food into tiny pieces, which are then moistened by saliva before the food is pushed into the pharynx by the tongue and other muscles.
Mouth comprises various parts which have different functions. Some are present externally while rest are located internal. They are:
Lips: Lips act as an opening to the Mouth. They are reddish in colour. The red colour is mainly due to the abundant blood vessels. Lips contain skeletal muscles and sensory nerves, which become useful in judging the texture as well temperature of food.
Cheeks: The cheeks are at the sides of the Mouth, continous with the lips, and have a structure similar to that of the lips. The muscles of the cheek are, just like the lips, play a vital role both in holding food in the Mouth as well as in speech. In addition to this, it is the buccinators muscle of the cheek – the facial muscle that is used in blowing out the air. The zygomaticus major and zygomaticus minor are attached to the corners of the mouth, these stretch across the cheek area, attaching to the zygomatic arch below the eye. These are the muscles that not only movet he upper lip but also lift the corners of the mouth.
Teeth: Teeth are the white structures in the Mouth, which are distributed into two sets, each on the upper and lower part of the Mouth. These are the most used part of the body apart from the feet. Teeth are mainly used for eating and chewing. And eating is the most ideal way of taking in necessary nutrients and vitamins that are of prime importance for the growth of the body. The teeth are various parts that have distinct functions and purposes. These parts are – crown, enamel, gumline, root, dentin and pulp. There are different types of teeth like incisors, canines, molars and premolars.
Gingiva: It is also known as gums and is a soft tissue covering the tooth.
Tongue: The tip of the tongue is known as the apex and the body is known as the Corpus Linguae. The tongue is covered by a moist tissue known as mucosa and there are tiny buds that project from the tongue which are the taste buds known as papillae. The tongue is a highly flexible structure primarily composed of muscles and plays an important role in our sense of taste and helps in the process of chewing. The muscular organ of the tongue coordinates the movement thus allowing it to move food around the mouth which is then forwarded to the digestive organs.
Palate: It forms the roof of the Mouth and is divided into hard palate and soft palate. The hard palate is in the front and is mostly of bones while the soft palate is more of muscles.
Uvula: It is the cone-shaped projection that hangs down from the posterior end of soft palate.
The lips help in determining the heat of the food before we actually put it in the Mouth. It also helps in modulating our voices. The cheeks have muscles that help in facial expressions. The teeth are responsible for chewing food. The gums hold, over and protect the teeth. The tongue is the primary taste organ and the taste buds help in sensing all the four common tastes, namely, salty, sweet, sour and bitter. The soft palate and the uvula block the opening of nasal cavity and pharynx while swallowing food preventing the food from entering the respiratory tract.
The most common Mouth disease is the gingivitis where there is the inflammation, swelling and bleeding of the gums. Another Mouth disease is the thrush. It is the white sores on the tongue and inner cheeks which are due to the excessive growth of yeast in the Mouth. In another disease known periodontal, there is a space formed between the teeth and the gum where the waste matters start to accumulate leading to infections in the Mouth. One of the most dangerous Mouth diseases is the oral cancer. It is affected mostly on our tongue, teeth and inner cheeks as a result of excessive consumption of tobacco and poor oral hygiene.