Lip facts for kids
The lips are a body part around the mouth. There is a (usually larger) lower lip, and a smaller upper lip. They help us to eat, touch and speak.
Lips also show emotions.
Because they have their own muscles and bordering muscles, the lips are easily movable. Lips are used for eating functions, like holding food or to get it in the mouth. In addition, lips serve to close the mouth airtight shut, to hold food and drink inside, and to keep out unwanted objects. Through making a narrow funnel with the lips, the suction of the mouth is increased. This suction is essential for babies to breast feed. Lips can also be used to suck in other contexts, such as sucking on a straw to drink liquids.
The lips serve for creating different sounds—mainly labial, bilabial, and labiodental consonant sounds as well as vowel rounding—and thus are an important part of the speech apparatus. The lips enable whistling and the performing of wind instruments such as the trumpet, clarinet, flute, and saxophone. People who have hearing loss may unconsciously or consciously lip read to understand speech without needing to perceive the actual sounds.
The lip has many nerve endings and reacts as part of the tactile (touch) senses. Lips are very sensitive to touch, warmth, and cold. It is therefore an important aid for exploring unknown objects for babies and toddlers.
The lips contribute substantially to facial expressions. The lips visibly express emotions such as a smile or frown, iconically by the curve of the lips forming an up-open or down-open parabola, respectively. Lips can also be made pouty when whining, or perky to be provocative.
Images for kids
Illustration of lips from Gray's Anatomy showing the inferior and superior labial arteries, the glands of the lips, and the nerves of the right side seen from the posterior surface after removal of the mucous membrane
Lips of a young man
This Asian arowana has large, protruding barbels
- In Spanish: Labio