The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







"Lip" redirects here. For other uses, see Lip (disambiguation).
Sagittal section of nose mouth, pharynx, and larynx.
Sagittal section of nose mouth, pharynx, and larynx.

The mouth, also known as the buccal cavity or the oral cavity, is the opening through which an animal or human takes in food. It is usually located in the head, but not always; the mouth of a planarium is in the middle of its belly.

Most animals have a complete digestive system, with a mouth at one end and an anus at the other. Which end forms first in ontogeny is a criterion used to classify animals into protostome and deuterostome.

Some animals, such as the cnidarians and the planaria, have no anus. They expel waste through the mouth, or as do brachiopods, which have very efficient digestive systems, roll it around in the stomach until it is finished.

Some animals, such as the tapeworm, don't even have a mouth. The tapeworm lives inside the digestive system, so it doesn't need its own digestive system.

In many animals, the mouth has mouthparts to chew food, hold food, or inject poison. In arthropods, they are external modified legs; in gnathostome vertebrates, they are internal.

The horny structures covering the mouth of a bird compose its beak or bill.

The human mouth is covered by an upper and lower lip. They play an important role in speech, facial expression, kissing, drinking (especially with a straw), sex, smoking. Infants are born with a sucking reflex, by which they instinctively know to suck for nourishment using their lips and jaw. Lips are often adorned with lipstick or lip gloss. The philtrum is the vertical groove in the upper lip, formed where the nasomedial and maxillary processes meet during embryo development. When these processes fail to fuse fully, a hare lip and/or Cleft palate can result.

According to etiquette the mouth is kept closed, especially when chewing.

See also

The contents of this article are licensed from under the GNU Free Documentation License. How to see transparent copy