Some people say that a certain person’s face can “launch a thousand ships,” others point to “a smile that is worth a thousand words.” Clearly a lot of people put a premium on individuals who look pleasing. One of the first things the public notices is the mouth – and, of course, the teeth.
Unfortunately, statistics reveal that the average American does not put the same importance to dental health as general systemic health. According to Owens, etal. U.S. health spending in 2004 amounted to $963.9 billion, but only 7.5 percent of that amount was spent on dental health. A 2003 survey of adults, especially those that suffer from chronic diseases, found that one of their top unmet needs is oral health. Owens, etal. It stresses that oral health affects the systemic health of the individual, as studies have shown connections between oral hygiene and heart disease. Moreover, research reveals that individuals who have poor oral health habits are more likely to suffer a low quality of life and low productivity. Remember that digestion and oral communication both start with the mouth. Anything that affects the mouth affects the digestive system and the way people communicate.
Now that we have established how important oral health is, the question is, what besides tooth care do you need to do to maintain good oral health?
What are Other Parts of The Mouth That You Need To Take Care of?
Oral health does not mean brushing your teeth alone, as the mouth is composed of the following parts:
- Upper and lower lips
- Hard palate – Located at the front of the roof of the mouth
- Soft palate – In the back of the roof of the mouth
- Insides of the cheeks
- Gums and Tongue
- The uvula – The soft tissues that hangs from the soft palate
- Tonsils – The balls of tissue on each side of the throat
- Retromolar trigone – The connective tissues that join the upper and lower jaws
- Underside of the tongue and the floor of the mouth
- Oral mucosa – The mucus lining that coats and protects the inside of the mouth
- Salivary glands – Organs that produce an enzyme that helps break down food and protects the mouth
- Frenulum linguae – The flap that connects the tongue and the floor of the mouth
Establishing proper oral health goes beyond teeth. If you neglect any of the above-mentioned parts, then you might suffer from the following afflictions or diseases:
- Periodontitis – According to the Mayo Clinic, if oral bacteria persist and cause severe inflammation, a person may suffer from periodontitis, which is a severe form of gum disease
- Some medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and pain killers, can reduce saliva flow which may lead to dry mouth syndrome, also known as xerostomia, in extreme cases. Be careful in taking these medications. Reduced saliva flow in the mouth can significantly reduce overall oral health, since saliva is a very important component of oral health. It helps tone the acids and combat microbial invasion. Overgrowth of bacteria due to low saliva can lead to disease. Saliva is also believed to help form certain sounds of speech
- The frenulum linguae and the uvula also play a significant part in speech, and scientists are still investigating the possibility of other uses of these parts of the mouth. The uvula, according to Everyday Health, may be connected to keeping the mouth moist and maintaining a proper oral environment
- Sometimes brushing alone cannot reach in between the teeth. Missing these areas can cause the build-up of plaque, which may lead to dental caries and gingivitis. Flossing along with brushing will help establish better gum health
- The tongue is an important part of the mouth. Often if you forgot to brush or take care of it, its surface may become a breeding ground for bacteria that could affect your mouth and digestive system
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Other oral diseases can lead to more serious or chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, Sjorgen’s Syndrome – an immune system disease that results from chronic dry mouth–and some kinds of eating disorder.
What can you do to go Beyond Teeth and Take Care of What is Inside Your Mouth?
Dental health professionals generally accept that proper brushing and flossing of teeth are the biggest contributors to better oral health. However, as mentioned above, there are other parts of the mouth that we need to take care of to ensure overall dental health. It is good health practice to check other parts of the mouth to prevent serious acute or chronic diseases related to oral health. A person who wants good oral hygiene should go beyond teeth; he should include all parts of the mouth.
In the end, prevention is always better than cure, as most physicians recommend. This is just as true of dental health. A visit to the dentist twice a year will do wonders for overall oral and systemic health. Always remember that inside your mouth are parts other than teeth that are equally important to proper oral care. You should take care of these as well, going beyond teeth with your oral care.