Anatomy and Tasks of The Lips

Different Information About Our Lips

Anatomy and Tasks of The Lips

Lips are soft and mobile structures surrounding the oral cavity entrance, that can be easily opened for food intake, speech and sound.

Vermilion is a pigmented part of the lip. Its color varies between red and brown according to the degree of pigmentation showing racial characteristics of the individual. It has a dry component (visible when lips are closed) and a wet component (visible when lips parted). Between the skin and the vermilion is the vermilion border (vermilion border). The groove between the upper lip and the nose is called the filter.

Lips are very sensitive to touch, temperature and cold. Therefore it is an important aid for babies and young children to discover unknown objects.

So, is there an evolutionary explanation for the anatomy of the lip (the upper lip being "M" and the lower lip being "U")? In fact, the mouth structure is very old, 500 million years ago ... Since then, almost all living things have mouth structures, and the mouth is basically a round opening in all living things in evolutionary history, from the most primitive to the most developed.

Lips contribute significantly to the projection of facial expressions and emotional expressions

There are various theories as to why our lips, which have functions such as eating, drinking and kissing, are different from other animals. The human mouth has a unique place among living things with its everted lips. This organ, which has functions such as eating, drinking, talking, kissing, may be identified with food and then become an action that triggers pleasure as its sensitivity increases. It is so important to our existence that this is known as the "primitive reflex". We are born knowing how to suck. This is true for all mammals.

The thing that directs babies to the breast as soon as they are born is the search reflex along with the sucking reflex. The seeking reflex is when the baby turns his head towards the thing that touches his lips or mouth. As soon as something touches the lip, the sucking reflex is activated. While the tongue does a lot of work during sucking, it is the lips that make the baby swallow by locking the mouth to the breast. In other words, sucking of a newborn baby, whether from breast or bottle, is not a passive behavior. Lips are at the center of the job. Lips are also essential for eating and speaking. It helps to speak by making proper use of the air coming out of the lungs. We make the sounds p, b and m by joining the two lips, and the sounds f and v by touching our lower lip to the upper teeth.

Our lips are many times more sensitive than our fingertips!

Lips are very sensitive. The area responsible for the sense of touch, called the somatosensory cortex, is located in the upper part of the brain. Touch sensations from all parts of the body are put into action here. There is an area reserved for each part of the body. The largest area is for the most sensitive mouth and hands. There are over a million nerve endings in our lips. Therefore, they are very sensitive. But there is no protective membrane structure that allows them to defend. Therefore, it is an organ that is affected quickly.

Our lips dry quickly because there are no sweat glands!

The areas where the sweat glands are located remain seriously moist, they dry very quickly because there are no sweat glands on the lips, and you need to moisturize them frequently.

Our lip print is unique

Just like fingerprints, lip prints are unique to everyone.

The pink appearance of our lips is due to the color of the blood vessels

The mucous membrane on the lips is very transparent. Unlike under the skin in other parts of our body covered by the skin, some of these layers are absent on our lips. For this reason, our lips look very transparent and more colorful due to the blood vessels.

The reason why the lip area is reddish is that the skin of the lips is thinner than the skin of other parts of our body. Our skin usually consists of 3 layers.

Stratum corneum: It is the uppermost layer consisting mostly of dead cells. Its task is to protect the body against external factors. The stratum corneum in the lip area is extremely thin.

Epidermis: It is located under the stratum corneum layer. Its main task is to produce new cells. Melanin-producing cells called melanocytes are located in the epidermis. Melanin is the pigment that causes our skin to tan when exposed to the sun. However, melanocytes are not found in the lip epidermis.

Dermis: It is the layer consisting of the connective tissues between the subcutaneous tissue and the epidermis that makes the body more resistant to impacts.

As a result of the thinning of the skin, the amount of light falling on the blood vessels in our lips has also increased. For this reason, the skin appears pink and even red in that area. In short, the reason why our lips are pink / red is due to the color of the blood in the blood vessels that pass under them.

Our lips lose their fullness as we get older

With aging, the body's collagen production decreases. Collagen is a vital protein. One of its functions is to shape the lips. Lips begin to lose their fullness as collagen production decreases as we age.

Scientists say that lip-locking (i.e. kissing) allows you to exchange biological information and sense pheromones of the opposite sex.

Our brain is actually doing this biological exchange in the background. Accordingly, kissing has an important place in choosing a partner. This condition made baby chimpanzees feel safer, similar to those of champagne that give their offspring by snorting food in their mouths!

Why do lips have a different texture from other parts of the body?

Lips, one of the most striking facial features of human beings, perform many functions. A little movement with our lips is enough to tell whether we find something attractive or disgusting. Joy, sadness, unwillingness, etc. We can easily express many of our emotions by using our lips. One of the most interesting issues about our lips is that the texture, color and elasticity of our lip area have obvious differences with other parts of our body.

Why are our lips soft?

Soft lips can be attributed to several reasons. The most important reason is that the protective skin layer (stratum corneum) is thin. The second reason is that there are no hair follicles in the skin of the lips. Our whole body is covered with follicles, except for our palms and soles. Follicles make our skin harder and stronger.

These two factors that cause the lips to be soft also cause the skin of the lips to be sensitive. However, there is another important reason for the sensitivity of the lips. Absence of oil and sweat glands in the lip area. Lacking these glands responsible for supplying moisture to the skin, lips can easily crack.

Our lips, just like our fingertips, are the part of our body that contains the most nerve endings. Who knows, maybe we wouldn't have developed an action called "kissing" if we didn't have an external organ with such thin skin and plenty of nerve endings.

As you can see, our skin in the lip area has evolved differently from the skin of other parts of our body. The border that separates the red of our lips from the rest of the skin is called the vermilion border. But why is there no such structure in other animals, but only in humans? Unfortunately, we do not yet know the real reason for this.

About the lip philtrum

The philtrum (also known as the rabbus in the UK) is a structure found in most mammals, often containing the moist and hairy area called the "rhinarium". It is a cleft, just like our nostrils, and has a function of humidifying the air before entering the nose in our ancestors and some of our modern cousins ​​(remember that we are distant or close cousins ​​with all living things, not necessarily monkeys). As Philip Hershkovitz, a mammalogist at the University of Pittsburgh and former director of Chicago's famous Field Museum of Natural History, explains in his book "Living the New World Monkeys: Introduction to Primates" published in 1977, today the filterum is now a dysfunctional organ and is evolutionarily dull.

The philtrum in humans is formed during the merger of the nasomedial (the structure that contains the upper lip and nose, which has not yet been separated in the embryo) and the maxillary region in embryological development. As a result of this unification, the disease we call "rabbit lipped" may occur. This is not the only disease associated with the filterum: If the filterum is flattened or flattened, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS, a mental illness) and Prader-Willi Syndrome (a genetic disease occurring on chromosome 15) may be suspected.

Murat Enoz, MD, Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgeon - ENT Doctor in Istanbul

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