More than just teeth, your mouth is made up of oral mucosa, gums, upper and lower jaws, tongue, salivary glands, the uvula and the frenulum. These play an important role when it comes to good dental health and should be examined regularly for good oral care. Good oral health is simply not brushing and flossing.
Good oral care goes beyond simple brushing and flossing. Find out more about the role of each structure.
Oral mucosa is nothing but a protective lining which is a mucous membrane similar to the mucous membranes that line your nostrils and inner ears. This oral mucosa plays a vital role in maintaining oral health by defending the body germs entering your mouth. Keratin, a tough substance found in nails and hair also makes oral mucosa resistant to injuries.
The pinkish tissue that surrounds and supports your teeth is nothing but the gums. They cover the entire root of the tooth, are firm, and do not bleed when poked, brushed or prodded. Flossing of gums is as essential as brushing the teeth everyday as gum diseases can lead to tooth loss.
The Upper and Lower jaw:
The upper and lower jaws give the structure your mouth needs for chewing and digestion and also a shape to your face. The jaws are made up of several bones and both the jaws differ in structure. The upper jaw contains two bones that are fused to each other and the rest of your skull, while the lower jaw is separate from the rest of the skull, enabling it to move up and down while you chew and talk.
The tongue includes taste buds and is a powerful muscle covered in special mucosal tissue. The tongue is considered to be an integral part of the digestive system which is used to transfer food to your teeth and moves it back to the throat after the food is chewed and swallowed. In infants, the tongue and the jaw work together to enable a baby to breastfeed. Tongue also plays an essential role in shaping the sounds that come out from your mouth.
The Salivary glands:
There are three sets of salivary glands in your mouth and neck which produce saliva with special enzymes that break down the food particles, making it easier for you to swallow. Saliva protects your teeth and gums by rinsing away food particles and bacteria. It also protects the enamel of your teeth by counteracting on the acidic foods.
The small flap of the tissue which hangs down at the back of the throat is nothing but the Uvula. It is made up of muscle fibers as well as connective and glandular tissues. The Uvula is covered by a oral mucosa, and plays some role in keeping the mouth and the throat moist.
The flap of the oral mucosa that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth is the Frenulum. Frenulum allows the tongue to move about as it does its job. Infants born with short frenulum or not elastic enough, he or she can gave difficulty in breast feeding. Speech can also be effected with a short frenulum.
Spend a minute or two looking at the parts of the mouth that lie farther inside the oral activity while you brush the next time. To maintain optimal oral health care, it is important to know the functions of each of these structures.