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Lips and Perioral Region Anatomy


The lips surround the entrance to the oral cavity. They function to provide competence to the oral cavity during mastication and at rest. The lips affect uttered sounds that facilitate spoken language and provide changes of facial expression that facilitate unspoken language. They provide sensory information about food prior to its placement in the oral cavity. To accomplish the multitude of functions, lips require a complex system of muscles and supporting structures.

Superficial anatomy

The upper lip extends from the base of the nose superiorly to the nasolabial folds laterally and to the free edge of the vermilion border inferiorly. The lower lip extends from the superior free vermilion edge superiorly, to the commissures laterally, and to the mandible inferiorly. Around the circumferential vermilion-skin border, a fine line of pale skin accentuates the color difference between the vermilion and normal skin. Along the upper vermilion-skin border, 2 paramedian elevations of the vermilion form the Cupid bow. Two raised vertical columns of tissue form a midline depression called the philtrum. The philtrum is located between the paramedian elevations of the vermilion and the columella above. The labiomental crease passes horizontally in an inverted U-shape across the lower lip, which intraorally corresponds to the depth of the gingivolabial sulcus.

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