Parsons, Thomas S. Ramsay Wright Zoological Laboratories, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Last reviewed:June 2021
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The oral or buccal cavity and its related structures. The mouth (see illustration) is a key anatomical structure as it is the orifice through which food and air enter the body of most animals. Also termed the oral or buccal cavity, the mouth forms in the embryo from an in-pocketing of the skin—namely, the stomodeum; thus, it is lined by ectoderm and is not, properly speaking, part of the digestive tract. Functionally, however, the mouth forms the first portion of both the digestive and respiratory systems. In particular, various special structures are found in, or associated with, the mouths of most vertebrates. In terms of disease, the mouth is subject to numerous pathologies potentially affecting the lips, tongue, teeth, gums, and related structures. See also: Animal; Digestive system; Mouth disorders; Respiratory system; Vertebrata
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