Oral Cavity

Oral Cavity

Structure, & Parts | Functions | Role in Speech Production

The human oral cavity refers to the mouth, all of its parts including the lips, the lining inside the cheeks and tongue, the upper and lower gums, teeth, and the roof and floor of the mouth under the tongue.

The bony roof of the mouth, and the small area. The oral cavity also plays an important role in respiration. And functions as the entrance to the digestive system as well.

Structure of the oral cavity

The mouth, or what is known as the apical cavity, is the first part of the digestive system, and inside this mouth, there is the tongue, teeth, gums, and openings of the salivary glands, and at the front of the mouth are the lips, which are muscle folds, which help the mouth to receive food, and they have a great role in preventing food from getting out of the mouth during chewing.

A number of bones contribute to the framework of the oral cavity, these are the paired maxillae, palatine, and temporal bones, as well as the unpaired mandible, sphenoid and hyoid bones. 

The Two Parts of the Oral Cavity

The oval-shaped cavity is separated into two parts by the dental arches (or teeth): 
1. The anterior parts (oral vestibule) sits anteriorly to the teeth and behind the lips.
2.   The posterior parts (oral cavity proper) describes the area inside of the oral cavity is constantly lubricated by salivary glands which also participate in food digestion by secreting enzymes that start the digestion of carbohydrates. 
These glands are the parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands.

Functions of the Oral Cavity

In the Respiratory System: though not a primary part of the human respiratory system, its functions include serving as the secondary passage for air to enter and exit the respiratory tract during inhalation and exhalation. So, when the nasal cavity cannot function properly, like in the case of a blocked nose, the oral cavity serves as the pathway for air and leads it into the airways through the pharynx.  
However, since the oral cavity is much shorter than the nasal cavity, and lacks the mucus lining and cilia present in the latter, it does not moisten and purify the inhaled air.

In the Digestive System: It is where the first step of digestion – ingestion or food intake – takes place. The oral cavity is the primary external opening leading into the gastrointestinal or digestive tract.

As you eat, the teeth tears break, and grinds the food (the process is medically known as mastication), while the tongue contributes to preparing it into a soft mass to be digested by mixing it with saliva (secreted by the salivary glands), completing the mechanical digestion of food.

The taste buds located on the tongue also allows you to taste the food. The process of chemical digestion begins within the oral cavity as well, with the salivary glands also secreting certain enzymes to break down starch and carbohydrates.

Role in Speech Production

The mouth is instrumental in speech production, as it allows humans to eat, breath, speak, and express. as the air exiting through the oral cavity from the voice, box is manipulated here to form words. The lips, tongue, hard and soft palates, and even the teeth are vital in speaking, as well as any other sound production.

Even a minor malformation or abnormality in the development or functioning of the oral cavity can seriously affect an individual’s daily life and activities, as it allows humans to eat, breath, speak, and express.