Let’s take a closer look at what is really going on inside your mouth and how all of these structures work together.
Brushing and flossing your teeth is just the beginning of good oral health. In addition to your teeth, the inside of your mouth is made up of the upper and lower jaw, gums, the tongue, the uvula, salivary glands, the frenulum and oral mucosa. All of these functioning structures play their own role in oral health and are examined with your routine dental visits with us.
Starting with the upper and lower jaw, the human jaw bones are made up of several bones. The upper jaw has two bones that are fused together and to your skull. The lower jaw is not connected to the skull which is why you can move it up and down. This structure gives your mouth what it needs to eat and speak. Your jaw bones also shape your face and mouth.
Gums are of course the tissue that encompasses your teeth. They too are coated with oral mucosa and are critical to your oral health. A healthy gum will not bleed when brushing and will cover the tooth’s entire root. It will be pink and firm. Taking care of your gums with flossing and regular check-ups is vital to the health of your gums because gum disease can ultimately lead to losing teeth.
The tongue is a muscle and a powerful one at that. It is coated with mucosal tissue that includes your tastes buds. The tongue’s job is to move food to your teeth. Once the food is chewed it is also the tongue’s job to move the food to the back of your throat to be swallowed and moved into the esophagus. The tongue is a very important component to your oral health and plays an essential role in the ability to speak.
The small flap of tissue that hangs down the back of your throat is the uvula. The uvula has been debated by scientists and doctors as to what its functions are. Still to this day are not fully understood, but the uvula seems to play a role in speaking and keeping the mouth and throat dry. The uvula is coated by oral mucosa and is made up from muscle fibers and gland tissue.
With respect to the saliva glands, they are sets of glands in your mouth and neck. They are important glands because they actually protect your teeth and gums as they wash away food and bacteria particles. They also work to neutralize foods with high acid content thus protecting your teeth’s enamel. These glands are the parotid, the submandibular and the sublingual glands. It is important to note that saliva is critical to a healthy mouth.
The frenulum or frenulum linguae is another flap of tissue and oral mucosa that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth. The frenulum allows the tongue to do its jobs. It is interesting to note that if a person is born with a short frenulum it can affect that person’s speech pattern. Also babies who are born this way will often have trouble with breastfeeding.
Oral mucosa is everything in the mouth that is not a tooth. It is a protective lining which is likened to the membrane found in the lining of the nostrils and inner ear. The oral mucosa has a very tough property called keratin which is also found in hair and fingernails. This substance allows oral mucosa to be very effective in protecting against germs and other irritants that may enter the mouth.
In conclusion, the mouth is just one amazing thing in addition to the rest of the human body.