On a daily basis we encounter a misconception widely spread among our patients that oral health is limited to the health of teeth. In fact, this is not true at all and the mouth is made up of more than just teeth.  Besides teeth, every mouth is made up of gums, oral mucosa, the upper and lower jaw bones, the tongue, salivary glands and many other small structures. 

That’s why; good oral health goes beyond simply brushing and flossing. Being aware of all your mouth structures is essential for your overall health, and these are routinely examined when you receive dental care.

Here is a quick brief about some of the important oral structures:

The Oral Mucosa:

The oral mucosa is the protective lining of the mouth. It plays an essential role in maintaining your oral health, by defending your body from germs, temperature changes and other chemical irritants that enter your mouth. A healthy oral mucosa needs to be always intact, ulcer- and mass free and of course not painful. 

The Gums:

The gums are the pinkish tissue that surrounds the teeth. These play a big role in protecting and supporting the teeth. Healthy gums are firm, cover the entire root of the tooth, (that’s why you can never see the root of healthy teeth) and do not bleed when brushing. Bleeding gums is the first sign of Gum Disease. It means that there is an inflammation in the supporting tissues of the teeth. This needs to be handled carefully and extra oral hygiene measures should be taken. Gum disease is always underestimated though it can actually lead to tooth loss. 

The Upper and Lower Jaw Bones:

Your jaws give your face and your mouth their shape and structure.  The lower jaw is attached with the upper one through a joint enabling the lower one to move while speaking and chewing.  As any other bone in the body, the jaws need to be protected in any kind of extreme sports to avoid its fracture. Furthermore, the dental x-rays during the routine check-up show if the jaws contain any abnormalities.  Healthy jaw bones are solid, pain – and mass free. 

The Tongue:

The tongue is a powerful muscle that includes your taste buds. The tongue is considered an integral part of the digestive system. It helps in moving the food to be properly chewed and helps in the swallowing process, too.  Additionally, the tongue takes part in the speech by shaping the sounds that come out of your mouth. A healthy tongue is pain- and mass free and needs to be brushed regularly as it is home of many germs. 

The Salivary Glands:

You have three sets of salivary glands in your mouth and neck. These glands produce saliva. Saliva contains special enzymes that help in the chewing and swallowing. Additionally the salivary flow always keeps your mouth moist protecting your teeth and gums by rinsing away food particles and bacteria. That’s why you always have to make sure your mouth is moist and if you sense any regular dryness double check if there is nothing wrong with your salivary glands. 

The next time you’re brushing your teeth, spend more time looking beyond your teeth at the different parts of the mouth putting more focus on your gums and oral mucosa. Knowing what these structures look like and do can help you maintain optimal oral health. If you have any doubt or concern about anything inside your mouth, the dentist is definitely the right person to help diagnose and advise the proper treatment if any is needed.

 

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