Understanding the Anatomy

The buccal region is the inner cheek area. The buccal mucosa is the layer of tissue lining the inside of the cheek. From the back of the mouth to the front of the mouth, the buccal mucosa extends from the anterior tonsillar pillar (also called the palatoglossus muscle) and includes the inner most lining of the lips. Sensation (or feeling) in this part of the mouth is provided by the third division of the fifth cranial nerve (called the trigeminal nerve).

The parotid duct (or Stenson’s duct) is a small opening in the buccal mucosa. This tiny hole is the end of a tube coming from the parotid salivary gland. This opening allows saliva to flow into your mouth when you eat or even think of eating. The parotid duct is in the buccal mucosa immediately opposite the second upper molar tooth on each side of the mouth.

Just underneath the buccal mucosa, in the inner cheek, are minor salivary glands, nerves, blood vessels and tiny lymphatic channels. Also, the buccal fat pad and some important muscles of facial movement and chewing are located between the buccal mucosa and the cheek skin. Finally, the upper and lower jawbones are on the border of the buccal region. Because of these structures, buccal cancers can cause several different symptoms, depending on what neighbouring structures they invade.

Because the buccal mucosa is continuous with the mucosa from other parts of the mouth (such as the retromolar trigone, upper and lower alveolus and the lips), sometimes it might not be totally clear from which subsite of the oral cavity the cancer arose.