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10.02 Mouth & Oropharynx

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  1. Mouth
    1. Site of mastication and initial digestion of food with salivary amylase
  2. Oropharynx
    1. Pathway for food between mouth and esophagus

Nursing Points


  1. Mouth
    1. Roof – covered by mucous membrane
      1. Hard palate → part of maxilla bone, part of palatine bone
      2. Soft palate → skeletal muscle
        1. Uvula – specialized portion
        2. Palatine arches – border between mouth and oropharynx
          1. Associated with tonsils
  2. Salivary glands (bilateral)
    1. Parotid glands
      1. At angle of mandible
      2. One large duct into mouth cavity
      3. Watery fluid (serous) with enzyme called salivary amylase
    2. Sublingual glands
      1. Many fine ducts
      2. Serous AND mucous secretion
      3. For helping food go down easier
    3. Submandibular glands
      1. Mucous secretion
      2. One duct under tongue
      3. Small amount of salivary amylase
  3. Pharynx
    1. Nasopharynx – uppermost
      1. Connects nasal cavities to oropharynx
    2. Oropharynx
      1. Nasopharynx → laryngopharynx
      2. Mouth → laryngopharynx
      3. Send food and drink to esophagus
    3. Laryngopharynx – bottom
      1. Oropharynx → trachea and larynx
      2. Oropharynx → esophagus
Study Tools

Video Transcript

All right in this lesson we’re going to take a look at the mouth in the oropharynx.

So the mouth is the beginning of the alimentary canal or the GI tract. The primary function of the mouth is to start the process of breaking down food. This happens in a couple of ways in the mouth particularly from the physical breakdown of food. There are some processes that Aid in the chemical digestion of food, but the main purpose of the mouth is mastication which is the actual chewing of food.

As food passes from the out of the mouth into the esophagus it has to pass through something called the oropharynx which is the initial pathway between the mouth and the esophagus.

Now when we start to look at the anatomy of the mouth, the first part that we need to look at is that there are multiple parts to the mouth. Obviously there’s all the teeth are involved, so you’ve got incisors and premolars and molars, but also there are other structures that are really important to my mouth. The roof of the mouth is covered by a mucous membrane and it’s separated into a hard palate and soft palate. The hard palate is part of the maxilla and part of the Palatine bone in the cranium. The soft palate goes further back and it’s made of skeletal muscle and it also helps to make up the uvula and a palatine arches. The palatine Arches are an important part of the immune system because they are associated with the tonsils.

Another really important part of the mouth are the salivary glands. The salivary gland take part in the initial chemical breakdown of food. The way this happens is that there are three glands that we look at. They’re on each side of the mouth, and the first one that we look at just the parotid gland. It’s at the corner of the jaw. t’s called the parotid gland and it helps to secrete a watery fluid with an enzyme called amylase which helps to break down starches. Now there are also other glands called sublingual glands and there are many fine ducts to these. They have a serious and a mucus secretion and they help to allow for easier swallowing of food.The last gland that we want to look at is the submandibular gland. It’s responsible for a mucus type secretion and it has one duct under the tongue. It also secretes salivary amylase. Now let’s take a look at the beginning of the esophagus with something called the oropharynx.

Now the pharynx of the structure that connects the nose and mouth in the throat. We identify which part of the pharynx were talking about by its name. So there’s the nasopharynx, the oropharynx, and the laryngopharynx. The nasopharynx is the uppermost part of the pharynx and it begins at the very back of the nose. The oropharynx is in the middle and it starts at the back of the mouth but it also extends from the nasopharynx to the laryngopharynx. The laryngopharynx is the bottom of the part of the pharynx and and it begins the trachea and larynx for the respiratory system, and then it also Begins the esophagus for the gastrointestinal system.

Okay so let’s recap.

The mouth is the beginning of the GI tract, and it’s responsible for the physical breakdown a food in the beginning part of digestion.

In the mouth there’s lots of Parts but the salivary glands play an important role in the chemical breakdown and also in swallowing. There’s also the hard and soft palate which are also important structures in the mouth.

The pharynx is the structure that connects the nose, the mouth, and the throat. We identify which part of the pharynx were talking about by its name. So it can either be the nasopharynx, oropharynx, or laryngopharynx.

That’s our lesson on the mouth & the oropharynx. Make sure you check out all the resources attached to this lesson. Now, go out and be your best self today, and as always, happy nursing!