Buccal Cavity: Definition, Structure & Function

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over something called the buccal cavity. You'll learn what that actually means, where it's found in your body, as well as its structure and function.

What's a Buccal Cavity?

What's a fancy term for ''dog''? How about ''canine''? What's a fancy word for ''thigh bone''? ''Femur'' sounds about right. And so buccal cavity is a fancy term that's used to denote the cheek cavity, so to speak. Let's go over the structure and function of the buccal cavity in this lesson.


Why cheek cavity? Well, bucca technically means cheek in Latin, so the buccal cavity can be seen specifically as the part of your mouth that is found between the teeth and cheeks. If you were to inflate your cheeks like a chipmunk, the space between those cheeks and your teeth would be the buccal cavity.

To get even fancier, we can say this cavity is formed by the following structures:

  • Anteriorly (towards the front), it is bounded by your lips and cheeks.
  • Posteriorly (towards the back), it is bounded by your teeth and gums.
  • Above and below, it is bounded by the mucosa flowing from the lips and cheeks to the gums.

The mucosa is the red and moist tissue that lines the inside of your mouth (as well as other places of the body).


So what's the point of having a buccal cavity anyways? Well, some animals, like squirrels, hamsters, and chipmunks, use the buccal cavity to carry food inside of their mouth! Maybe they're going to bury it for safekeeping over winter?

A chipmunk making good use of its buccal cavity.

You probably won't see many people stuffing their buccal cavities with food then burying it in their backyards for later (although, who knows), but we can sometimes store food or liquid in the buccal cavity, if only temporarily so. For example, have you ever taken a huge mouthful of something, only to realize it can't fit inside of your mouth without you choking on it?

Maybe you didn't want to spit half of that food out either as it would be kind of disgusting and embarrassing. What did you do instead? You probably pushed some of it into your buccal cavity, where you stored it temporarily. And yes, that made you look like a chipmunk.

As soon as you finished chewing part of your food (and having swallowed it), you moved the food located in the buccal cavity to your teeth and tongue in order to chew and swallow it as well.

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