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Inside Your Mouth

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Inside Your Mouth

Besides brushing and flossing your teeth in order to maintain good oral health how much do you know about the inside of your mouth?

Your mouth is not just teeth; your mouth is made up of gums, oral mucosa, the upper and lower jaw, the tongue, salivary glands, the uvula, and the frenulum. All of these structures play an important role when it comes to good dental health and are routinely examined by your dentist at every check up.

Oral Mucosa is everywhere inside your mouth that isn’t a tooth it is a protective lining, this is a mucous membrane similar to the mucous membranes that lines your nostrils and inner ears. It plays an essential role in maintaining your oral health, as well as your overall health, by defending your body from germs and other irritants that enter your mouth.

Gums are the pink tissue that surrounds and supports your teeth. Also covered by oral mucosa, gums play a critical role in your oral health. Healthy gums are firm, cover the entire root of the tooth, and do not bleed when brushed, poked, or prodded. Gum disease can ultimately lead to tooth loss, so taking care of your gums by flossing daily is just as essential to dental care as brushing your teeth.

The Upper and Lower Jaw give your face its shape and your mouth the structure it needs for chewing and speaking. The upper jaw contains two bones that are fused to each other and to the rest of your skull, while the lower jawbone is separate from the rest of the skull, enabling it to move up and down when you speak and chew.

The Tongue is a powerful muscle covered in specialized mucosal tissue that includes your taste buds. The tongue is not just important to your oral health it’s also considered an integral part of the body’s digestive system it’s responsible for moving food to your teeth, and when chewed food is ready to be swallowed, the tongue moves it to the back of the throat so it can proceed into the esophagus. Additionally, the tongue plays an essential role in the ability to speak by shaping the sounds that comes out of your mouth.

We have three sets of Salivary Glands in our mouth and neck: the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands. These glands produce saliva, which contains special enzymes that help break down food, making it easier for you to swallow. Saliva is critical to good oral health, because it protects your teeth and gums by rinsing away food particles and bacteria and by helping to counteract acidic foods that can wear down the protective enamel on your teeth.

The Uvula is the small flap of tissue which hangs down at the back of your throat. The uvula is composed of muscle fibers as well as connective and glandular tissues.  All of its functions are not yet fully understood. However, it seems to play some role in speech and in keeping the mouth and throat moist.

The Frenulum Linguae is a flap of oral mucosa that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This tissue allows the tongue to move. Defects in the frenulum can affect speech and in infants it can affect their feeding.

The next time you brush your teeth, observe and know how these structures help you to maintain optimal oral health.

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