For instance, I realise being able to absorb simple sugars in the mouth is pivotal in the rapid action of oral glucose gel. Thus I was wondering what nutrients in general can be absorbed directly within the mouth, and at what speed?
Quite a bit can be absorbed through the mouth. Most commonly, starches are broken down to maltose (two glucose molecules formed by a condensation reaction) and are easily absorbed by the bloodstream.
A lot of other factors balance into this, ie pH, lipid solubility, and molecular weight. Generally, if a substance is easily dissolved in saliva, it can be administered buccally or sublingually because the only remaining step is the diffusion into the subepithelial capillaries. In regards to speed, anything properly absorbed via buccal or sublingual administration goes to work much faster than a standard oral medication, and with a higher availability in the bloodstream. You are taking first pass metabolism and enzyme breakdown in the stomach out of the equation by diffusing the drug directly into the bloodstream.
There is quite a laundry list of medications that can be administered transbucally or sublingually, just a few of these: Nitroglycerin Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) Glucose gel (as you mentioned) Fentanyl (a narcotic painkiller) buprenorphine (for opioid dependency) Benzodiazepines (alprazolam, clonazepam)
The mouth or the oral cavity is lined by oral mucous membrane. The oral mucous membrane has two parts the epithelium and its supporting connective tissue known as lamina propriya. The charecter of the epithelium and lamina propriya varies to a great extent from the gingiva and hard palate to the floor of the mouth based on functional requirements. However basically the mucous membrane lining the oral cavity is not designed for absorbing nutrients, which was the primary question. As for the oral glucose gel - read the American Red Cross, Scientific Advisory Council recommendation that the buccal absorption of glucose is limited and not recommended. ARC SAC Advisory
Actually, absorption does take place through the mouth.There is a ptyalin enzyme in the saliva which hydrolyzes carbohydrates of the food. These contents are then absorbed in the blood through the facial vein.The facial vein opens into subclavian vein,and it opens into the superior vena cava.
Many vitamins are absorbed in mouth. Even spraying vitamins will help you overcome vitamin deficiency. Even some drugs can be absorbed directly into mouth.