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The cheeks (buccae) are important in the process of mastication (and also drinking in herbivores). Minor Salivary glands are located within the buccal musculature. The cheeks also create extensive food storage pouches in some species.

Structure and Function

The cheeks are composed of many of the muscles of mastication.

The main muscles of mastication are:

  • The masseter muscle
  • The lateral and medial pterygoids
  • The digastricus muscle
  • The temporalis muscle

Other muscles that aid mastication include :

  • the buccinator muscle
  • the zygomaticus muscle
  • the platysma muscle

The Parotid duct opens in a small papillae above the upper fourth premolar (canid).


The cheeks are innervated by the trigeminal nerve (CN V) and the facial nerve (CN VII).


  • Non keratinised stratified epithelium

Species Differences


'Cheek pouches' are diverticula found in rodents (and monkeys) allowing food storage. The pouches can be extensive extending into the thorax with their own musculature.


Papillae are present on the medial surface of the cheeks. These large, pointed and densely spaced projections of keratin provide protection to the underlying epithelium due to the rough diet.

Cheeks Learning Resources
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Cheeks Anatomy & Physiology Flashcards
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