The mouth (oral cavity, buccal cavity) is where food enters the digestive tract. The following features are found in the mouth:
- The vestibule is the narrow region between the cheeks and teeth and between the lips and teeth.
- The tongue defines the lower boundary of the mouth. It helps position the food during mastication (chewing) and gathers the chewed food into a ball, or bolus, in preparation for swallowing. The tongue is covered with papillae, small projections that help the tongue grip food. Many of the papillae bear taste buds.
- The palate defines the upper boundary of the mouth. The forward portion is the hard palate, hard because bone (maxillae and palatine) makes up this portion of it. Further back in the mouth, the soft palate consists of muscle and lacks any bone support. A conical muscular projection, the uvula, is suspended from the rear of the soft palate.