(redirected from mouthing off at)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.


1. an opening or aperture.
2. the oral cavity, which forms the beginning of the digestive system and in which the chewing of food takes place. The mouth is also the site of the organs of taste and of the teeth, tongue, and lips. It is not only the entrance to the body for food and sometimes air, but also a major organ of speech and emotional expression.
Structure. Except for the teeth, the interior of the mouth is covered with mucous membrane. This thin lining extends out from the front of the mouth to form the lips. Salivary glands lie above and below the mouth and produce saliva, a liquid that protects the delicate membranes and mixes with food in the first step of digestion of food.

The palate forms the roof of the mouth. The front two thirds of the palate comprises the hard palate, and the back third, the soft palate. The soft palate is hinged to the hard palate and is flanked on both sides by the tonsils. In the middle of the soft palate is the uvula, a projection pointing down to the tongue. At the root of the tongue, below the uvula, lies the epiglottis.
Disorders. Because of its special functions the mouth is constantly exposed to infection and irritation. These can affect the whole mouth generally or only certain parts, such as the tongue. Inflammation of the mouth, or stomatitis, can indicate the presence of either a mild or severe disease. Local conditions include thrush, gingivitis, and herpes simplex. Generalized diseases can also give rise to inflammation of the mouth; these include diphtheria, tuberculosis, blood dyscrasias, vitamin deficiencies, and syphilis.

Cancer can afflict the sides of the mouth, the lips, the tongue, and occasionally the salivary glands. Continued irritation, such as pipe smoking, is thought to be a cause of many mouth cancers. Any persistent sore or swelling should be promptly examined by a health care worker.

Birth defects affecting the mouth include cleft lip and cleft palate. Both have the same cause: failure of adjacent parts of the body to unite properly in fetal life. A cleft lip (popularly called “harelip”) involves a split in the upper lip. Sometimes the cleft extends into the upper jaw, the floor of the nose, and the palate. The resulting deformity of nose and mouth interferes with sucking and speech unless corrected by surgery. A cleft palate, which may cause difficulties in speaking and eating, signifies a cleavage in the uvula and the soft palate. Both conditions can be successfully corrected by surgery.
mouth care techniques of oral hygiene whose purpose is to preserve or restore and maintain normal physiology and function of the oral cavity. These include assessment of the mouth, cleaning, and removal of debris from the teeth, palate, tongue, and sides of the mouth. Periodically and systematically cleaning the mouth, brushing the teeth, and flossing help prevent dental caries, inflammatory periodontal disease, and halitosis. Mouth care also promotes a sense of cleanliness and well-being, facilitates speech, and helps overcome loss of appetite. Additionally, a healthy oral mucosa is the first line of defense against infection in the oral cavity.

In the normal mouth a healthy oral mucosa is maintained in part by movements of the tongue, lips, and cheeks during speech, chewing, and swallowing. Salivation and the mechanical action of chewing foods also help keep the mucosa soft and moist. Brushing and flossing or other less forceful measures facilitate removal of debris, bacteria, and plaque and preserve the integrity of the teeth and gums.

Patients most in need of special mouth care include those who (1) breathe through their mouths because of nasal obstruction or other conditions, (2) are receiving nasal oxygen, (3) have a restricted oral intake or are being fed by tube, (4) are comatose or otherwise unable to care for their teeth and mouth, (5) are receiving radiation therapy to the head and neck, or (6) are receiving chemotherapy for a malignancy. Both radiation and chemotherapy can cause severe stomatitis and xerostomia.

Initial and ongoing assessment of the oral cavity can establish the type and frequency of mouth care needed. In general, the more easily damaged the integrity of the oral mucosa, the more gentle the chemical and mechanical cleansing. If brushing with a soft nylon toothbrush and nonabrasive toothpaste and flossing cannot be tolerated, the teeth can be cleaned with unflavored oral care sponges dipped into plain water or a physiologic saline solution. Flossing is contraindicated if the patient has a low platelet count or low white cell count. Mouthwashes are not a substitute for toothbrushing.

Xerostomia (excessive dryness of the mouth) can be relieved by artificial saliva or by application of a water soluble lubricant such as KY jelly. If the patient is able to eat and drink, fluids and moist foods are encouraged. Dry, cracked lips respond best to petroleum jelly or a camphor-based lip balm. Lemon juice and glycerin are not recommended in patients with mucositis because when used over a period of time glycerin tends to dry oral tissues.

Thick and tenacious mucus in the oral cavity can be removed by diluted hydrogen peroxide or socium bicarbonate solution. The hydrogen peroxide solution is prepared by mixing equal parts hydrogen peroxide (USP 3 per cent) and water just before application. A peroxide solution is contraindicated if the patient has leukemia or there are freshly granulating surfaces or exposed bone in the oral cavity. Sodium bicarbonate solution is made by adding one teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate to one pint (half a liter) of water. The same proportions of salt and water are used to prepare a 0.9 per cent solution of normal saline.

If pain in the mouth prevents a patient from eating comfortably, it may be possible to provide temporary relief by rinsing the mouth with a solution of one part lidocaine viscous 2 per cent added to two parts water. However, since this solution diminishes sensitivity to heat, the patient must not be fed hot food or drinks that could cause burns.

Diligent, systematic mouth care is an integral part of hospital care. Research has shown that such care prevents many problems of nutrition, infection, and pain associated with stomatitis, especially those occurring as a complication of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Moreover, routine care of the mouth, teeth, and gums, no matter what the health status of the patient, can prevent many problems, maintain a healthy oral cavity, and do much to make the patient more comfortable.
denture sore mouth denture stomatitis.
trench mouth name given to necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis during World War I, when it was common among soldiers in the trenches.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. Synonym(s): oral cavity
2. The opening, usually the external opening, of a cavity or canal.
[A.S. mūth]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


n. pl. mouths (mouthz)
a. The body opening through which an animal takes in food.
b. The cavity lying at the upper end of the digestive tract, bounded on the outside by the lips and inside by the oropharynx and containing in humans and certain other vertebrates the tongue, gums, and teeth.
c. This cavity regarded as the source of sounds and speech.
d. The opening to any cavity or canal in an organ or a bodily part.
To take in or touch with the mouth: Small children tend to mouth their toys.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


1. Synonym(s): oral cavity.
2. The opening, usually the external opening, of a cavity or canal.
See: os (2) , ostium, orifice, stoma (2)
[A.S. mūth]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


[AS. muth]
1. The opening of any cavity.
Enlarge picture
2. The cavity within the cheeks, containing the tongue and teeth, and communicating with the pharynx. Synonym: buccal cavity; oral cavity See: illustration


Tongue: dry, coated, smooth, strawberry, large, pigmented, geographic, deviated, tremulous, sore. Gums and teeth: gingivitis, sordes, lead line, pyorrhea, atrophy, hypertrophy, dental caries, alveolar abscesses. Mucous membranes and other parts of mouth: eruptions accompanying exanthematous diseases, stomatitis, canker sores, herpes simplex, thrush, trench mouth, cysts, tumors, carcinoma, lesions of syphilis such as chancre, mucous patches, gumma, lesions of tuberculosis, abscesses.

Disorders of the mouth cavity may be indications of purely local diseases or they may be symptoms of systemic disturbances such as dehydration, pernicious anemia, and nutritional deficiencies, esp. avitaminosis.

Rashes of the mouth may indicate stomatitis, measles, or scarlet fever. Rashes on lips may indicate typhoid fever, meningitis, or pneumonia. In secondary syphilis, chancre, cancer, and epithelioma, mucous patches appear.


In addition to visual examination, careful digital examination should be made because it reveals areas of tenderness and alterations of texture characteristic of leukoplakia, cancer, cystic swellings, and lymphadenopathy.

Excessive moisture of the mouth is seen in stomatitis, irritation of the vagus nerve, ingestion of irritating drugs or foods, nervous disorders, teething, seeing appetizing foods, and smelling pleasant odors. See: burning mouth syndrome

trench mouth

Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.illustration
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners


the anterior opening of the ALIMENTARY CANAL of animals through which food is taken into the body. It is often surrounded by mouthparts or tentacles that facilitate feeding. see DIGESTIVE SYSTEM.
Collins Dictionary of Biology, 3rd ed. © W. G. Hale, V. A. Saunders, J. P. Margham 2005


1. Synonym(s): oral cavity.
2. Opening, usually external, of a cavity or canal.
See: ostium, orifice, stoma (2)
[A.S. mūth]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012

Patient discussion about mouth

Q. What is Mouth cancer? My grandfather has been diagnosed with mouth cancer. What is it? Is it dangerous?

A. Cancer of the mouth is dangerous as are all cancers. The earlier this cancer is detected, the better the survival rates are. If the cancer is caught in the first stage the survival rates can go up to 90% of patients surviving five years and most of these will be cured.

Q. What are the symptoms of mouth cancer? I have an ulcer in my mouth that won't go away, could it be cancer?

A. Have you had this ulcer for a long time? over 3 weeks?
If so, consult your GP however don't be alarmed as it isn't necessarily cancer, though it's always better to check it out and not neglect it.

Q. which is a very good treatment for mouth ulcer

A. drink butter milk.

More discussions about mouth
This content is provided by iMedix and is subject to iMedix Terms. The Questions and Answers are not endorsed or recommended and are made available by patients, not doctors.
References in periodicals archive ?
Or maybe she was mouthing off at some recent example of her wildman rocker's trademark bad-boy behaviour.