Anatomy word of the month: buccinator

August 1, 2010 —

The “trumpeter” in Latin. Our cheek muscles, the buccinator, assist the tongue during chewing movements to hold food between our teeth. Otherwise food would accumulate between our cheek and gums making chewing much less efficient and much more frustrating to accomplish. The buccinator muscles also hold in our cheeks during whistling and forceful blowing through pursed lips as in playing a trumpet, hence, the “trumpeter” muscles. Think of Louis Armstrong’s ballooning cheeks when he is hitting those high notes!


Dr. Dyche was born in New Jersey and trained at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center before coming to Des Moines in 1976. Over 30 plus years he has taught gross anatomy, embryology and neuroanatomy. He also served in administration as associate dean for basic sciences, dean of the College of Health Sciences, and acting director of the PA program. He was one of the founding instructors of CPR and ACLS at a time when few medical schools offered this training. He retired to Oregon in 2008, then returned to DMU in 2009. Did he miss the tornadoes, the below zero wind chills or the cadavers?

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