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Quick question on mucous membrane of mouth

  1. Jun 10, 2010 #1
    Hello everyone,

    What is the function of the mucous membrane of the mouth. Ok if it is to trap infectious agents and keep everything moist, where does mucous drain to after it traps the pathogens. Do they fall down from the mouth. Also since the first thing that comes to mind when mucous pops up is obviously nasal mucous. So how does the actual mucous look like it. In the mouth why can't we see or feel the mucous like in the nose. Thanks :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2010 #2
    The mucous membrane is actually just a membrane that lines all parts of the inside of your body that can be exposed to the outside.

    In the mouth it serves the same function as it does in the urethra. To trap pathogens in order to prevent further infection and to keep the area moist. Inside the mucus it contains various antiseptics for obvious reasons :tongue:

    In the mouth the mucus is basically just your saliva. However it's mostly water, something like 99% water. There are other things in saliva but they are so mixed up that it basically doesn't matter. I'm not sure if you could 'seperate' the mucus in your mouth from the rest. This in my opinion accounts for why it looks different from mucus produced in your respiratory system (Phelgm) or in your nose.

    Another function, just as important is keeping the cells moist. When you breath in the mucus of your mouth and your nose helps to keep all the cells exposed to air moist and prevent them from drying out.

    When the bacteria etc. get trapped in the mucus they are most likely going to die from the antiseptics found in the mucus. In your mouth there are pretty much two ways for these trapped, dead organisms to go, to your stomach where they most certainly will be killed, or you spit out your saliva.
  4. Jun 10, 2010 #3
    Hey thanks this was just what I was after :smile: I have one quick question though, so do salivary glands produce saliva+mucus or does mucus come from the mucous membranes we discussed. Thanks again!!
  5. Jun 10, 2010 #4
    Hey! Sorry about the long response time :rofl:

    To be completely honest with you, I don't 100% know if the mucous membrane of the mouth secretes mucus on its own. Since not all mucous membranes secrete mucus on their own.

    I can tell you that the glands of the mouth produce a mixture of mucus and serous fluid. I'd say there are 1000 different glands in the mouth though :rofl:. I'm not entirely sure if any of them are directly from the mucous membrane and if they are purely producing mucus. I tend to think there are but they would be 'minor' in contribution compared to the submandibular glands and sublingual glands which produce the majority of the mucus found in the mouth. (the Parotid gland is the largest gland in the mouth but it soley produce serous fluids and I believe it doesn't secrete as much fluids as the submandibular)

    Some of the mucus produced is merely for coating the mouth and others have more active jobs. I think though before I make this anymore confusing we should wait for someone more knowledgable on the anatomy of the mouth to answer your question :tongue:. That way we can both learn something from a more knowledgable source.
  6. Jun 12, 2010 #5
    That's fine :smile: Anyway I liked the first sentence in your previous post "The mucous membrane is actually just a membrane that lines all parts of the inside of your body that can be exposed to the outside. " I knew this but never thought of it like that before, now the mucous membrane makes sense for me. As for anatomy I think we should summon Moonbear!!
  7. Jun 13, 2010 #6
    I think there is a terminology issue here: saliva IS serous fluid and mucous, but is "saliva" because of the mixture of enzymes distinct from vaginal, urethral, or other secretions. Most of your saliva is a simple mixture of mucous and serous fluid from 2 glands, the submandibular glands (about 70% of your total saliva).

    Then you have hundreds upon hundreds of minor salivary glands which contribute mucous, but not serous, as a distributed lubrication system. You also have the sublingual gland which accounts for another 5% or more of your saliva. When dip the tip of your tongue beneath your lower teeth, and some saliva emerges, this is the primary source for that. Saliva you feel coming from "behind your molars" is submandibular.

    Von Ebner's Glands don't contribute much mucous, but what they do is key, and begins the digestion (hydrolysis) of fat (lipids). This immediately liberates compounds without which our capacity to taste would be crippled.

    Lubrication to prevent chaffing is a key, as is the early "breakdown" of some of your food to aid digestion and taste. The mucous, is mucous, and just as zomgwtf said, it is meant to be a guard against pathogens and irritants, along with added lubrication.

    Remember, that a snake's venom is modified saliva, presumably evolving from the need to predigest, into a weapon, and external means of digestion, as with many insects and arachnids.
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