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The oral cavity, bony tissue, muscles and nerves, the tongue and salivary glands.

oral cavity

The space within the mouth, containing all structures within the mouth such as the teeth, tongue, palates, etc.

The "oral cavity proper" contains the hard palate, soft palate, tongue and floor of the mouth.


Consists of the space between the lips or cheeks and the teeth, gingiva, and alveolar ridges.

Alveolar ridges

Bony support structures formed by the parts of the maxilla and mandible that serves as sockets for the teeth.

hard palate

Bony structure covered with soft tissue. It constitutes the vault of the oral cavity.

palatum durum

median raphe

Divides the hard palate into left and right sides.


Symmetrical, transverse epithelial ridges radiate out from the median raphe.

soft palate

Unsupported soft tissue extending back in the oral cavity from the hard palate.

incisive papilla

Elevated, rounded tissue located just behind the two central incisors where the raphe begins.

incisive foramen

Located underneath the incisive papilla. The nasopalatine nerve travels to the soft tissue that is lingual to the anterior maxillary teeth via this opening.

bony tissue

Teeth are seated in the incisive bone, maxilla and mandible.

incisive bone

Also called the premaxilla, houses the six upper incisors.


Houses all of the upper teeth (excluding the upper incisors), including the canines, premolars, and molars.


Houses all of the lower teeth. Made up of two bones that are attached by a joint called the mandibular symphysis.

horizontal ramus

The structure in the mandible containing the teeth.

infratorbital foramen

Located in the maxilla beneath the orbit.

zygomatic arch

Cheekbone; runs along the side of the skull below the orbit.

vertical ramus

Also called the ascending ramus. The vertical part of the mandible that forms the temporomandibular joint and the angle of the mandible. Angle/angular process of the mandible refers to the lower back corner of the lower jaw.

coronoid process

A bony projection at the back part of the mandible that serves as the attachment for the temporal muscle (temporalis). The temporalis is one of the major muscles used in chewing and biting.

mental foramina

Holes on the lateral side of the mandible below the premolars.

condyloid process

Refers to the smooth, rounded projection from the rear of the mandible where it articulates with the skull.

muscles related to chewing

Temporalis, masseter, and the lateral and medial pterygoid. The digastricus muscle opens the jaw.

innervation of muscles

Mandibular nerve.

parts of the tongue

The tip or apex, margin, body, and root.


Short, pointy (cone-like) protuberances covering the rostral two thirds of the surface of the tongue. Hypothesized to aid in grooming.

"Mushroom-shaped" papillae along the dorsal sides and front of the tongue can contain taste pores.

Vallate papillae contain taste buds and are found on the posterior portion of the tongue.

marginal papillae

Occur in puppies to help them nurse. As the puppy begins to consume solid food, these papillae disappear.

musculature of the tongue

The tongue is made up of striated skeletal muscle covered by mucosal membrane and controlled by intrinsic and extrinsic muscles.

Intrinsic muscle has its origin/insertion within the same structure, while extrinsic muscles have their origin outside of the structure that they move.


Protrusion/protraction of the tongue.


Retraction/depression of the tongue.


Drawing the tongue caudally, that is, to the interior, or lower, surface.


A spindle-like band made up of fat, muscle, and in some cases, cartilage and fibrous tissue. Humans do not have a lyssa.

zygomatic gland

A salivary gland, formally called orbital gland, is best developed in carnivores; located above the zygomatic arch and below the eye. Ducts from the zygomatic gland open to the caudal (inferior) portion of the oral vestibule.

parotid gland

Triangular, or V-shaped. Produces serous (thin, watery) saliva (and mucous secretion in the dog) and is located underneath the ear, behind the border of the TMJ and mandible.

parotid duct

Runs toward the cheek across the lateral surface of the masseter muscle and opens at the parotid papilla in the oral vestibule opposite the 4th upper premolar.

mandibular gland

Secretes mixed serous fluid and mucous. It is an ovoid, capsulated, yellowish gland that is not difficult to palpate in dogs and cats due to its location just caudal to the angle of the jaw and ventral to the parotid gland.

mandibular duct

Runs rostrally, medial to the digastricus, and opens into the oral cavity at the sublingual caruncle on the floor of the oral cavity.

sublingual caruncle

A small, fleshy mound on each side of the lingual frenulum.

lingual frenulum

A fold of tissue that attaches the undersurface of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

sublingual gland

Secretes a mixed serous fluid and mucous. In the dog, it is a two-part gland - the monostomatic portion and the polystomatic portion.

monostomatic portion of sublingual gland

The monostomatic portion is compact with a fibrous capsule. It is fused to the rostral border of the mandibular gland, and its single duct, the sublingual duct, opens into the oral vestibule near the suglingual caruncle.

polystomatic portion of the sublingual gland

Consists of a half-dozen to a dozen little lobules that drain via several ducts opening into the oral cavity on either side of the frenulum.

two salivary glands in cats, but not in dogs

Cats have two molar salivary glands, the buccal molar gland and the lingual molar gland. The buccal molar gland is located between the obicularis oris and the mucous membrane of the lower lip. It empties into the oral cavities via a few small ducts. The lingual molar gland has many small openings in the direction of the tongue.


The clear, viscoud fluid secreted by the salivary glands. It is a complicated mixture of inorganic and organic substances that include e-lytes, proteins, hormones, minerals, bactericidal agents, vitamins, and enzymes (in some species).

salivary regulation and secretion

The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems of the autonomic nervous system regulates the composition and secretion of saliva. Sympathetic innervation causes vasoconstriction in response to anxiety, fear or dehydration. Parasympathetic impulses from salivary nuclei in the brain stem cause vasodilation and increase the flow of saliva. Sight, taste, and olfactory stimulation initiate this response.

production levels of saliva

Basal production level keeps the environment for the teeth and mucous membranes moist and may help protect the mucosa from minor injury and agents such as bacteria.

The elevated surge level helps move bacteria and other materials from the mouth to the stomach - an acidic environment that destroys them.

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