Table of Contents
What is cheek cell?
The linear tissue inside the mouth is known as the basal mucosa and is made up of squamous epithelial cells. These structures, commonly referred to as cheek cells, divide about every 24 hours and continuously leave the body. The following images are of the cheek cell under microscope.
What is squamous epithelial cell?
The squamous epithelium is made up of epithelial cells that are individually flat and scale-like. Cells are long, wide and show polygons when viewed from above. It gives a smooth, low-friction surface, which allows fluid to flow easily over it.
The cells of the cheeks secrete an uninterrupted supply of a substance called mucin, which is the main component of the mucus. In combination with the salivary glands, mucin maintains a moist environment in the oral cavity. Adequate humidity must be maintained for the enzymes to soften food, facilitate swallowing and initiate the process of digestion.
Cheek cells are often studied in school laboratories because they can be easily collected by mouth or obtained through ordinary swabs. Although the individual cells under the microscope look very normal, each of them has a genetic make-up of the whole body. That is why they are often used for DNA fingerprint research as well as paternity testing. A team of Australian researchers recently discovered another use for human cheek cells. They created a test that used cheek cells to measure a person’s propensity for high blood pressure.
The main parts of a cheek cell:
- cell membrane.
- Nuclear membrane
These are the parts that will be visible to you if you put cheek cell under a microscope. You may often see bacteria also but that needs a better microscope. You will not see bacteria with a low cost microscope.
Requirements for cheek cell slide preparation:
The things that will be needed to prepare a slide for cheek cell are:
- Cover slip
- Tooth pick
- Methylene blue dye
- Tissue paper (optional)
How to prepare a wet mount cheek cell?
- Take a clean microscopic slide.
- Take a dropper and put a drop of water on the central part of the slide. ( physiological saline can also be used instead of water)
- To obtain cheek cells, gently scrab the inside of the mouth using a clean sterile tooth pick.
- Then smear the tooth pick on the slide where water drop was put. Smear for a few seconds to get the cells on to the slide.
- After that, add a drop of methylene blue dye on to the smear.
- Take a clean cover slip and gently place it on top of the smear to cover the stain and the cells.
- Then take a piece of tissue and touch gently on the border of the cover slip to remove any excess solution.
- Thus the slide for cheek cell is ready to be observed under a microscope.
Make sure that the working surface is clean before starting and avoid any means that may cause contamination. A pair of clean gloves can be used. Do not leave the tooth pick on the working surface. Tooth pick and tissue paper should be discharged safely.
Cheek cell under microscope (observation):
- Large irregular shaped cells can be seen.
- Cell membrane can be observed.
- A deep blue colored nucleus can be seen at the central of each cell. ( each cell contains a nucleus )
- A lightly stained cytoplasm can be detected.
Why to stain the cells:
Cells have different parts and that can absorb stains or pigments. They are referred to as chromatic. After absorbing the stain, these parts of the cell become more visible under the microscope and can therefore be easily distinguished from other parts of the same cell.
Without the dye, the cells would appear almost transparent, making it difficult to separate the different parts of the cell. This is why they can be easily separated by using dye.
Methylene blue has a string similarity for both DNA and RNA. When it comes in contact with the two, a dark spot is formed and can be seen under the microscope.
The nucleus of the central part of the cheek cell contains DNA. When a drop of methylene blue is introduced, the nucleus stains, which separates it and is clearly visible under the microscope.
Although the whole cell appears light blue, the nucleus in the central part of the cell is much darker, which allows it to be detected easily.
Other than methylene blue, safranin can also be used as an alternative.
This is a very easy and fun experiment a student can do at home. They will learn the structure of a cell and its major parts. It will enhance their knowledge and increase the curiosity of learning and seeing other things under a microscope. Teachers and parents can also encourage them.
Do not have a microscope!!
A microscope is a powerful and fun device. High school students and college students already know what a microscope is. If you do not have a microscope you can buy one easily from here at a very lower cost. My advice is just start with one and after that you can upgrade to expensive ones. For preschoolers, parents can introduce microscope to your child so that the curioisity may grow in them. We have top 5 best microscopes for preschoolers under $50.