Most people don’t give their mouth a second thought. It’s easy to take it for granted that we can eat, drink and speak with ease every day. But in reality, there are a lot of “moving parts” that all work together so your mouth can help you lead a happy, healthy life. So if you’ve ever wondered about the different parts of your mouth and how they function, look no further! In this blog, you’ll learn some basics about the lips and cheeks, teeth and gums, and the temporomandibular joint. That way, the next time you see a dentist in Montgomeryville, you’ll have a better understanding of any oral healthcare needs you might have!
Lips and Cheeks
There are many small facial muscles that control your lips and cheeks to help you form countless facial expressions and speak clearly. They also help you keep food and liquids in your mouth while chewing and maintain the position of your teeth.
In turn, your teeth and jaws support your lips and cheeks. That’s why people can get a sunken-in appearance after missing their teeth for many years. When the teeth are no longer present, the jaws being to shrink, leaving nothing to support the facial structure.
We typically don’t think of the tongue as a muscle, but that’s exactly what it is. In addition to its most obvious function, helping you taste your food, it’s also crucial for swallowing, speaking and chewing.
The tongue is covered with an estimated 2,000 – 8,000 taste buds and detects five tastes: bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami (savory).
The purpose of your teeth is pretty clear, so we’ll briefly describe their anatomy. They’re actually made of three layers:
- Enamel – Enamel is the outer layer and it’s the hardest substance in your body – even harder than your bones!
- Dentin – Dentin is the middle layer and it’s a bit softer than enamel.
- Pulp – Pulp is the innermost layer where the nerve resides.
It’s not uncommon for patients to only think about the teeth and forget about the importance of the gums. But the gums and underlying bone are just as important because they support the teeth and keep them in place!
You can think of your gum health as the foundation of a house. You would never put a new roof on a house that has a faulty foundation, right? It’s the same with dental work. A family dentist in Montgomeryville will want to make sure that your gum health is stable before recommending any major dental work, such as a crown or bridge.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
Your TMJ is the most complicated joint in the body because it’s the only joint that’s bilateral (two sides). This joint is working every time you chew, swallow and speak. Any disruption to the right and left side working together harmoniously can result in pain, discomfort and malfunction of the TMJ.
About the Author
Dr. Catherine West is a general, restorative and cosmetic dentist with a lifelong interest in dentistry. She loves educating patients about the basics of their mouth so they can be more empowered to understand their oral healthcare needs. If you have any questions, she can be contacted via her website or at 215-646-3040.