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Open Access Open Badges Research

The oral mucosal surface and blood vessels

Ella A Naumova1, Tobias Dierkes2, Jürgen Sprang3 and Wolfgang H Arnold1*

Author Affiliations

1 Witten/Herdecke University, Faculty of Health, School of Dentistry, Witten, Germany

2 BWZK Koblenz, Rübenacher Straße 172, Abt.für. MKG-Chirurgie, Koblenz, 56072, Germany

3 Praxis in der Binderstraße, Binderstraße 24, Hamburg, 20146, Germany

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Head & Face Medicine 2013, 9:8  doi:10.1186/1746-160X-9-8

Published: 12 March 2013



Detailed information about the size of the oral mucosa is scarce in the literature, and those studies that do exist do not take into account the size of the tongue or the enlargement of the surface by the papillae. Because of the various functions of the oral mucosa in the maintenance of oral health, knowledge of its true size may provide a better understanding of the physiology of the oral cavity and some oral diseases and direct future therapeutic strategies. The aim of this study was to determine the total size of the oral mucosa.


Five human adult cadaver heads were cut in the median sagittal plane, and the total area of the oral surface was determined using silicon casts. The surface of the tongue was measured with quantitative profilometry. Photographs of oral blood vessels were taken in different areas of the oral mucosa of adult test subjects using intravital microscopy, and the pictures were compared with vessel casts of the oral mucosal capillaries of a maccaca fasciculrais monkey, which was studied using a scanning electron microscope.


The results showed that the dorsal side of the tongue comprises a large proportion of the total oral mucosal surface. The surface area of the epithelium increases moving from anterior to posterior on the tongue, and the number of underlying blood vessels increases proportionally.


It can be concluded that the back of the tongue plays an important role in the oral resorption of drugs. Clinical relevance: The results may be of relevance for the delivery and development of oral drug application.

Oral mucosa; Size; Surface; Tongue; Blood vessels