Cow Mouth Anatomy – Floor and Roof of Ruminant Mouth’s Cavity Structure

The cow mouth anatomy consists of the vestibule and mouth cavity proper. You will also find various structures in the vestibule and mouth cavity proper of a cow.

I will teach you all the structures from these two parts of a cow mouth cavity with a diagram. You will understand the anatomical facts of the cow mouth cavity’s lip, cheek, tongue, palate, and floor.

Quick overview: there are 2 (two) parts in the cow mouth – vestibule and mouth cavity proper. Here, the vestibule is the space between teeth and lip and cheek. In contrast, the mouth cavity is properly enclosed by the medial surface of teeth and the dental pad that continues with the pharynx.

If you want to learn (know) the anatomical facts of the vestibule and cow mouth cavity proper in detail, let’s continue this article till the end.

Cow mouth anatomy

To describe the cow mouth anatomy, you might know the contents of a vestibule and mouth cavity properly. Here, the vestibule of a cow’s mouth contains the lips and cheeks. Again, the mouth cavity proper consists of the following –

  • Tounge of the cows,
  • Palates (both hard and soft) of the cow, and
  • The floor of the cow’s mouth,

The mouth cavity proper of a cow continues caudally with the laryngopharyngeal opening. You will also see a relationship of the mouth cavity proper with the other pharyngeal openings.

Cow Mouth Structure
Cow Mouth Structure

Now, let’s identify different features from the vestibule of the cow mouth –

  • Thick and mobile lips (upper and lower),
  • Planum nasolabialis (at upper lip),
  • Philtrum of the mouth (irregular groove on the upper lip),
  • Ordinary and tactile hairs of the lips, and
  • Pointed papillae on the mucous membrane,

From the floor of the mouth cavity, you might identify the below-mentioned structures –

  • The tongue of the cow (with its various parts and hyoid attachments),
  • Alveolar sockets for incisors and check teeth,
  • Frenulum linguae of the tongue,
  • Sublingual folds (both sides),
  • Sublingual caruncles (two – one on each side), and
  • Orifices or fissures around or lateral to the cranucles,

Finally, you might identify the features from the hard palate of the cow –

  • Dental pad of the cow,
  • Palatine ridges (horizontal),
  • Longitudinal median groove,
  • Alverolar sockets for check teeth (premolar and molar teeth),
  • Papillae incisive, and
  • Pointed papillae on the lateral aspect,

Here, I have identified all the features as mentioned above from the various part of the cow mouth.

What is the vestibule in the mouth part of a cow?

The space between the medial aspect of lips and checks to the outer surface of teeth is the vestibular space. Thus, the vestibular part of the cow mouth only contains the lips (upper and lower) and cheeks (right and left).

Again, you will also find the outer surface of the gum in the boundary of the vestibular cavity or space in a cow.

Lips: the lower and upper lips of a cow are thick and rigid structure. They are the musculo-membranous structure that locates at the orifice of the mouth.

You will find the skin externally and internally formed by the pigmented epithelium. In the structure of the lips, you will find the orbicularis oris muscles. Again, this muscle bends with the muscles of the face.

The area between the nostrils (opening of nose) and upper lip is keratinized. Typically, the color of this area is black and termed the planum nasolabialis (muzzle).

You will also find an irregular midline groove on the planum nasolabialis of the cow. This irregular groove on the planum is a superficial indication of the philtrum.

The planum nasolabialis contain numerous nasolabial glands. And thus, the area remains moist by the secretion of these glands.

The lower lip also contains a narrow bare stripe on the midline. You will find numerous pointed papillae on the mucous membrane of the adjacent planum.

There are two types of haris (ordinary and tactile) found in the surrounding skin of the planum nasolabialis.

“The lip of sheep or goat is thin and mobile compared to the cows. You will see the distincts philtrum in the lips of a sheep or goat.”

What are the cheeks in a cow?

The cheeks of the cow mouth consist of muscles, skin, glands, papillae, and mucous membranes. These cheeks form the lateral wall of the cow’s mouth.

Here, the skin of the cheeks continues with the other parts of the cow’s mouth. The buccinators, levator, and depressor group muscles form the lateral wall of the cheeks.

You will find the conical or pointed papillae in the area of cheeks directed to the pharynx. These papillae are larger at the angle of the mouth, whereas they become smaller caudally.

You will find three significant types of buccal glands in the structure of the cow cheeks –

  • Dorsal buccal glands – yellowish glands that extend from the angle of the mouth cavity to the maxillary tuber. Again, they are covered by the buccinator and masseter muscles of the cheeks.
  • Ventral buccal glands – these are the compact brownish glands in the cheeks. They extend from the angle of the mouth to the point of the masseter muscle.
  • Middle buccal glands – they loosely arrange in the structure of the cheeks and remain deep to the buccinators muscle,

The buccal nerves innervate all these glands (dorsal, ventral, and middle buccal).

The gum of the cow consists of fibrous tissue that closely attaches to the periosteum of the alveoli.

The floor of the cow mouth cavity structure

You have already identified all the features from the floor of a cow mouth cavity anatomy. Now, let’s describe all these identified features with the diagram from the floor of the mouth cavity.

The tongue of a cow consists of a root, body, and apex. Here, the body consists of torus linguae, lingual fossa, and various types of papillae on its dorsal surface.

You will find (see) the details guide on the cow tongue anatomy in the below-mentioned article of anatomy learners –

The frenulum linguae is the wide fold of the mucous membrane. This structure connects the ventral surface of the tongue with the floor of the mouth cavity.

The sublingual caruncle is the larger papillae on the floor of the cow mouth cavity. They locate on either aspect and behind the third incisor tooth of the cow.

The sublingual caruncles are the hard structure that possesses the serrated edge. You will find the fissure or orifice on the lateral aspect of the caruncles.

Within these orifices, the ducts of mandibular and significant sublingual glands open.

Behind the sublingual caruncles, you will find a line of folds of mucous membranes. These are the sublingual folds on the floor of a cow mouth cavity. These folds also contain microscopic orifices where the ducts of minor sublingual glands open.

What is the palate of a cow mouth cavity?

The palate of a cow divides into two parts – cranial hard and caudal soft palate. Here, the hard palate of the cow forms the roof of the mouth cavity. In contrast, the soft palate forms the caudal part of the roof of the mouth cavity and connects with the (base) root of the tongue.

In the structure of the hard palate of a cow, you will find the dense connective tissue that covers the mucous membrane. You will see the attachment of the hard palate with some of the bony plates, like palatine, maxilla, and pre-maxillae (or incisive).

The hard palate of a cow is wider compared to that of sheep and goats. You will find a narrow hard plate in the goat or sheep mouth cavity structure.

Structure of cow hard palate

Rostral to the hard palate of a cow, you will find the dental pad. This structure replaces the upper incisor teeth and is formed by the thick layer of connective tissue.

Again, you will find some cornified epithelium in the structure of the hard palate of a cow. This dental pad of the cow is typically formed on the body of the incisive bone (premaxilla).

There are 15 – 19 transverse palatine ridges present in the hard palate of the cows. These transverse ridges cover a two-thirds area of the hard palate of the cows.

The transverse palatine ridges are straight in ox but have serrated edges. Right and left ridges meet at the median raphe in the ox hard palate.

But, the hard palate of the sheep or goat shows irregular ridges which possess a smooth edge.

You will see the diamond shape structure between the dental pad and the first transverse palatine ridge. This diamond-shaped structure is known as the incisive papilla.

You will see the deep furrow on both sides of the incisive papilla. The incisive ducts open on either side of the deep furrow.

Caudally, the hard palate of the cow mouth continues with the soft palate. It acts as the partition between the mouth cavity and the pharynx.

The soft palate of the cow mouth cavity composes of muscles and numerous glands. This soft plate shows the concave oral surface and convex pharyngeal surface.

Palatopharyngeal and palatoglossal arches of cow mouth

You will see a fold of mucous membranes extending laterally from each side of the caudal border of the soft palate to the lateral wall of the pharynx. This mucosal membrane or fold is the palatopharyngeal arch.

Again, there is another mucosal fold that extends from the soft palate to the root of the tongue. And this fold is the palate glossal arch or cranial pillar of the cow mouth cavity proper.

How many teeth does a cow’s mouth have?

Answer: a cow’s mouth has 32 (thirty-two) teeth. These all are permanent teeth that need 3 to 4 years.

The eruption of the permanent teeth in a cow’s mouth starts from the age of one year. It becomes completed by three or four years of age.

Let’s see the dental formula of a cow mouth –

I0/3, C0/1, P3/3, M3/3

Here, I = incisor teeth, C = canine teeth, P = premolar teeth, and M = molar teeth,

Here, a cow needs 18 – 48 months to get all the incisor teeth in its mouth. Again, the premolar teeth erupt within the age of 36 months.

The first molar teeth of the cow mouth appear at the age of 6 months. Other molar teeth of the cow mouth occur at the age of 30 – 36 months.

You may know (learn) the details of the anatomical facts and eruption of the cow teeth from other articles for anatomy learners.

What is full mouth condition in a cow?

Answer: when all the permanent teeth erupt (32 teeth) is known as the full mouth condition in a cow. At birth (calf) or within a few weeks after birth, you will see the milk or deciduous teeth in a calf.

These deciduous teeth are also known as the temporary teeth in the calf. Again, the temporary set of teeth is replaced by the permanent teeth. Now, the condition is the full mouth condition in a cow.

The formula of deciduous teeth in a calf is –

DI 0/3, DC 0/1, DP 3/3

Here, DI = deciduous incisors, DC = deciduous canine, and DP = deciduous premolar teeth.

Goat and sheep mouth cavity anatomy

You will see a little difference (variation) in the goat and sheep mouth cavity anatomy compared to the cows. First, let’s see the diagrams of goat and cow mouth cavities and try to identify the major differences.

The major differences in the goat and sheep mouth cavities are enlisted below –

  • The upper and lower lips (identified) of the sheep and goat are thin but mandible,
  • You will see the short planum nasolabialis with distinct philtrum in the sheep or goat,
  • The tongue of the sheep or goat does not possess the distinct lingual fossa,
  • Again, the filiform papillae on the sheep tongue are less compared to the cow’s tongue,
  • The hard palate of the sheep and goat are narrow and possess irregular transverse palatine ridges,

Both in goats and cows, you will find the lingual branch of the lingofacial artery that supplies the mouth cavity. Again, the branches of major palatine arteries from the maxillary artery also supply the mouth cavity.


So, the cow mouth cavity anatomy possesses two important compartments – vestibule and mouth cavity proper. The structure of the cow mouth cavity properly contains teeth, tongue, palates, and muscles.

Now, you might identify all the anatomical facts from the cow mouth anatomy from the actual sample.