The lips contribute to facial expression. Smiling, frowning, surprise, anger, and other emotions can all be quickly communicated through changing lip position. Inability to move the lips can significantly impact non-verbal communication.
Enunciation and speech are additional critical functions of the oral cavity. Although the larynx generates much of the sound of speech, these tones are shaped into words through the combined actions of oral cavity components. For example, interactions among the tongue, teeth, and lips help escaping air form fricative versus plosive consonant sounds. Similarly, cheek and mandible position affect vowel formation.
The hard and soft palates function to separate the nasal cavity and nasal pharynx from the oral cavity and oral pharynx below. Malfunction or absence of parts of the palate can result in hypernasal speech and regurgitation of the food bolus into the nasal cavity or nasal pharynx. Children with cleft palates suffer difficulties with both speech and eating.
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