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Buccal Cavity: Definition, Structure & Function

Instructor
Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Expert Contributor
Christianlly Cena

Christianlly has taught college Physics, Natural science, Earth science, and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is currently pursuing his doctorate 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. Updated: 09/09/2021

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.

Structure

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).

Function

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.
chipmunk

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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Additional Activities

Buccal Cavity: True or False Activity

This activity will help you assess your knowledge of the buccal cavity.

Guidelines

For this activity, print or copy this page on a blank piece of paper. Read each statement carefully. Write TRUE if the statement is valid and FALSE if otherwise. Neatly write your answers on the appropriate blank space provided.


__________ 1. The buccal cavity is used to temporarily store food.

__________ 2. The word bucca technically means cheek in the Latin language.

__________ 3. Our saliva is produced in the gland called the tongue.

__________ 4. Animals such as chipmunks and squirrels use their buccal cavity to store as much food as they can carry as preparation for the winter.

__________ 5. The buccal cavity is bound by the lips and gums posteriorly.

__________ 6. The mucosa is the substance that lines the inside of your mouth.

__________ 7.The saliva entering the buccal cavity starts the process of digestion when you store food on the side of your cheek as you eat.

__________ 8. The buccal cavity is bound by the tongue and cheeks anteriorly.


Answer Key

1. TRUE

2. TRUE

3. FALSE

The parotid gland produces the saliva.

4. TRUE

5. FALSE

It is bound by the teeth and gums posteriorly.

6. FALSE

The mucosa is the red and moist tissue lining of the insides of the mouth.

7. TRUE

8. FALSE

The tongue is not a part of the buccal cavity.

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