The buccal mucosa is the mouth lining to the cheek.
Mouth cancers can arise in this area and are often associated with previous lichen planus or sometimes when patients have been previous tobacco or pan chewers.
These cancers have sometimes unfortunately been under-treated, but with modern free flap reconstructions, good surgical clearance can be achieved whilst maintaining function.
Sometimes these cancers can be extensive and in rarer cases the skin of the cheek may need to be removed with the tumour, or adjacent parts of jaw bone.
Within the space between the mouth lining and the skin is contained the small nerves which move the lips. these can sometimes be injured during surgery affecting the movement of the lips on that side.
Sometimes the drainage from the parotid salivary gland can be disrupted, or the gland itself can be injured because it is close to tumours of the cheek lining. This can present with a swelling of the cheek, usually appearing suddenly around 2-3 days after surgery. This is usually self-limiting, but sometimes a small soft plastic drain is placed in the mouth to encourage it to drain.
Sometimes patients will experience temporary weakness of this nerve which will make the smile slightly asymmetrical. This usually then recovers over the course of several months, though on rare occasions it can be permanent.