In biological anatomy, commonly referred to as the mouth, under formal names such as the oral cavity, buccal cavity, or in Latin cavum oris, is the opening through to take in food and issue vocal sounds. It is also the cavity lying at the upper end of the alimentary canal, bounded on the outside by the lips and inside by the pharynx and containing in higher vertebrates the tongue and teeth.
The mouth plays a crucial part in food intake. Teeth rip and grind ingested food into small pieces that are suitable for digestion, and the palate, which divides the mouth from the nasal cavity and allows for separate passages for air and food. The gums (gingivae), which cover and support the teeth, are formed by specialized membranes. Food is softened by the moist environment of the mouth and the enzymes found in its secretions, making it easier to swallow and starting the digestive process.