oral cavity

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The part of the mouth behind the teeth and gums that is bounded above by the hard and soft palates and below by the tongue and the mucous membrane connecting it with the inner part of the mandible.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.


What is the oral cavity?

Oral cavity is a scientific and anatomical term for the inside of the mouth.

Oral means relating to the mouth. In the context of anatomy, a cavity is a hollow spot inside the body.

Oral cavity is sometimes used synonymously with buccal cavity, another scientific term for the inside of the mouth (buccal can mean the same thing as oral). However, the buccal cavity is sometimes more technically defined as the entry area of the oral cavity.

Why is the oral cavity important?

Ever just stop and think about the inside of your mouth? Some scientists and anatomists make a career of it (and they have better ways of saying “inside of your mouth”). Oral cavity is a precise way of referring to the front part of the inside of the mouth, from the lips to the throat.

The term oral cavity helps scientists discuss the mouth with more precision in the course of identifying its parts and any problems that they may have. It is surrounded by the lips, cheeks, tongue, and hard and soft palates (the top part of your mouth). Everything inside that general area is said to be situated within the oral cavity. The oral cavities of mammals, like ours, typically include tongues and teeth. Mammals also usually excrete saliva in the oral cavity, which is a fancy way of saying they make spit. All of these things help us soften our food for consumption and help to keep the mouth nice and damp.

Precise terms like oral cavity are important in the context of medical terminology. They help doctors and scientists to be very specific about where things are situated.

Did you know ... ?

We often think of anatomical terms as applying mostly to humans, but the term oral cavity applies to other creatures too, and sometimes these oral cavities are very different. Rorqual whales, for example, have pleats that can expand the size of their oral cavity to make it up to four times larger.

What are real-life examples of oral cavity?

The term oral cavity is typically only used in technical medical and anatomical contexts. The term is used in the name of certain conditions and diseases, such as oral cavity cancer. 



What other words are related to oral cavity?

Quiz yourself!

Which of the following anatomical structures is NOT located in the oral cavity?

A. teeth
B. nostrils
C. tongue
D. gums

How to use oral cavity in a sentence