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Oral Cavity - want to learn more about it?

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Oral Cavity

The oral cavity is an internal area of the head that is created by the bony space between the base of the skull and its connection to the mandible via the temporomandibular joint.

Bordered by the vestibule, the hard and soft palates, the tongue, and the pharynx with the tonsils, the oral cavity is the location where physical digestion takes place through mastication. Speech is also made audible in this location.

This article will discuss the exact borders of the oral cavity, together with its blood supply, innervation, and some related clinical aspects.

Key facts about the oral cavity
Borders

Anteriorly: vestibule, teeth

Superiorly: hard and soft palates

Inferiorly: tongue and floor of mouth

Posteriorly: pharynx, tonsils, larynx

Blood supply

Palate: maxillary, sphenopalatine, greater palatine, lesser palatine, facial, ascending palatine, ascending pharyngeal arteries

Floor: facial, ascending palatine, submental, lingual

Teeth: maxillary, superior alveolar, middle superior alveolar, posterior superior alveolar, inferior alveolar, mental, incisive arteries

Innervation

Palate: maxillary, nasopalatine, greater palatine, lesser palatine, glossopharyngeal nerves

Floor: lingual, glossopharyngeal, internal laryngeal nerves, chorda tympani

Teeth: maxillary, infraorbital, anterior superior alveolar, middle superior alveolar, posterior superior alveolar, mandibular, inferior alveolar, mental, incisive nerves

Oral Cavity

This cavity is lined with various types of epithelium and contains many anatomical structures that are necessary for the proper function of the mouth.

Recommended video: Overview of the oral cavity
The oral cavity is the first part of the digestive system.

It is the entrance to the alimentary canal, the area in which the first stages of digestion occur through mastication, and due to the movements of the inner and adjacent structures such as the tongue, the lips and the teeth, the spoken word is made audible.

Borders

Anteriorly, the teeth limit the oral cavity proper. The space between the lips and the teeth is not strictly considered to be part of the oral cavity, but is known rather as the vestibule, which runs around the tooth arches so that laterally it is limited also by the bucca.

Within the oral cavity proper the medial side of the dental arch continues to act as a wall, while superiorly the hard palate and soft palate from anterior to posterior respectively form the roof of the cavity. Inferiorly the tongue and below it the floor of the mouth with its many appendages make up an unstable and moveable base. Posteriorly, the cavity continues into the larynx and the pharynx, with the tonsils marking the end of the cavity proper and the tip of the soft palate curving slightly downwards.

Overview of the oral cavity - anterior view

Blood Supply

The oral cavity is extremely well vascularized and so explaining the intricacies of each vessel and which portion of an area it supplies will be left for another time. For now, a list of branches contributing to a general area will be included, including those that assist in the venous drainage of that specific area.

Palate

The palate is supplied by: 

  • the maxillary artery
  • the sphenopalatine artery
  • the greater palatine artery
  • the lesser palatine artery
  • the facial artery
  • the ascending palatine artery
  • the ascending pharyngeal artery

Floor

The floor of the oral cavity is supplied by:

  • the facial artery
  • the ascending palatine artery
  • the submental artery
  • the lingual artery

The venous drainage of the palate and the floor of the oral cavity occurs via:

  • the greater and lesser palatine veins
  • the sphenopalatine vein
  • the lingual vein
  • the submental vein
  • the pharyngeal plexus

Maxillary Teeth

The maxillary teeth are supplied by:

  • the maxillary artery
  • the superior alveolar artery
  • the middle superior alveolar artery
  • the posterior superior alveolar artery

Posterior superior alveolar artery - lateral-left view

Mandibular Teeth

The mandibular teeth are supplied by:

  • the inferior alveolar artery
  • the mental artery
  • the incisive artery

Inferior alveolar artery - lateral-left view

The venous drainage of the maxillary and mandibular teeth occurs via:

  • the anterior superior alveolar vein
  • the middle superior alveolar vein
  • the posterior superior alveolar vein
  • the inferior alveolar vein

Innervation

As with the blood supply, only the main regions and branches that supply them will be mentioned here.

Palate

The palate is innervated via:

Floor

The floor of the oral cavity is innervated through:

  • the lingual nerve
  • the glossopharyngeal nerve
  • the internal laryngeal nerve
  • the chorda tympani

Maxillary Teeth

The sensory innervation of the maxillary teeth occurs through:

  • the maxillary nerve
  • the infraorbital nerve
  • the anterior superior alveolar nerve
  • the middle superior alveolar nerve
  • the posterior superior alveolar nerve

Mandibular Teeth

The sensory innervation of the mandibular teeth is supplied by:

  • the mandibular nerve
  • the inferior alveolar nerve
  • the mental nerve
  • the incisive nerve

Clinical Aspect

There are hundreds of pathological conditions that can affect the oral cavity and can be seen in all ages, sexes and races. The disorders are both inherited and acquired. Due to the extent of the list of diseases, an example of an acquired and an inherited disease will be mentioned.

Firstly, an example of a common birth defect would be a cleft palate. This occurs due to the lack of fusion between the palatine shelves during facial development of the fetus. It is treated by extensive surgery and long term rehabilitation.

Secondly, an example of an acquired disease of the oral cavity would be a candida infection. This fungal infections inhabits the mouth due to many reasons, but mostly bad hygiene. It is treated with topical antifungal medication and a strict oral health regime.

Oral Cavity - want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 852,397 successful anatomy students.

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • Neil S. Norton, Ph.D. and Frank H. Netter, MD, Netter’s Head and Neck Anatomy for Dentistry, 2nd Edition, Elsevier Saunders, Chapter 1 Development of the Head and Neck, Page 23 and Chapter 13 Oral Cavity, Page 326 to 378.
  • Frank H. Netter, Atlas der Anatomie, 5th Edition (Bilingual Edition: English and German), Saunders, Kapitel 1, Tafel 51 and 52.
  • G. Laskaris, Pocket Atlas of Oral Diseases, Second Edition, Thieme Flexibook - Clinical Sciences, Chapter 1 White Lesions, Pages 18 and 19.

Author:

  • Dr. Alexandra Sieroslawska

Illustrators:

  • Overview of the oral cavity - anterior view - Paul Kim
  • Posterior superior alveolar artery - lateral-left view - Paul Kim
  • Inferior alveolar artery - lateral-left view - Paul Kim
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Related Atlas Images

Overview of the oral cavity

Digestive system

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