The oral cavity, beyond the teeth

The oral cavity is much more than just our teeth. It also includes our gums, lips, tongue, cheeks and palate. They all play an important role in digestion, speech and the expression of emotions.

The gums are an important support for the teeth, and their health can affect the condition of the teeth. Inflammation of the gums can lead to tooth loss and more serious problems such as gum disease.

The lips protect the oral cavity and help to form speech and express emotions through smiling or facial expressions.

The tongue plays an important role in snacking, speaking and mixing food with saliva to make it easier to digest.

The tongue can also indicate health problems, such as anemia, by changes in texture and color.

The cheeks and palate support the structure of the oral cavity and help keep food in place during chewing.

They can also indicate health problems such as tumor growth or inflammation.

In conclusion, the oral cavity is an important part of our body and deserves to be treated with attention and proper care to avoid health problems and maintain optimal function.

Good oral hygiene is not only about taking care of your teeth.

Other structures also require extra attention to ensure the health of the whole oral cavity.

The mouth contains, in addition to the teeth, gums, oral mucosa, upper jaw and mandible, salivary glands, frenum and tongue.

They all influence, to some extent, the normal course of functions as well as the health of the whole complex.

Oral mucosa

At a simple examination in the mirror, when we open our mouth, we notice that everything that is not teeth or related to teeth is called oral mucosa.

This is a mucous membrane lining the oral cavity, underneath which are blood vessels, nerves, muscles or bones.

The role of this mucosa, through its relationship with the outside, is to protect the underlying structures it houses.

A hard substance, also found in nails and hair, called keratin, coats some areas of the mucosa, making it more resistant to injury.

The integrity of the oral mucosa is therefore a conditioning factor for the integrity of the oral cavity.

Any injury that spreads beyond the oral mucosa is a risk for the development of infections, with adverse consequences for the whole body.


These are the pink tissues that surround and ensure the stability of the teeth.

Due to their proximity to the teeth, the gums contain numerous ligaments of varying orientation, adapted to the function of supporting and supporting the teeth in the dental sockets.

The gums are characterized by a certain degree of hardness, as they are underlain by alveolar bone, have a pale pink color and are particularly sensitive to insults.

Bleeding is a marker of gingival inflammation, which, left untreated, rapidly progresses to recession, increased tooth mobility and bone resorption, also known as periodontal disease.

Upper jaw

This is a fixed bone that does not move and shapes the upper region of the oral cavity.

It contains the alveolar bone where the upper teeth are implanted and is the site of various muscle insertions that play a role in the function of the oral cavity.

Mandible or lower jaw

It represents the bone that is activated to perform functional movements.

It is also the support for the teeth of the lower arch. Frequently, this bone can be fractured or cracked in accidents involving the facial mass.


It is one of the most powerful muscles of the human body, specialized in recognizing tastes, thanks to the papillae scattered over its entire surface.

The tongue also has the role of pushing the food bowl towards the lower structures of the digestive system.

It is indispensable in speech in the pronunciation of certain phonemes where it rests on the teeth and also helps in the mastication process, directing food towards the dental arches.

In infants, the tongue plays a major role in fetal feeding and the harmonious development of the mandible in relation to the jaw.

In edentulous people, however, it can be a destabilizing factor for dentures.

Salivary glands

There are three pairs of salivary glands in the mouth and throat, sub-mandibular, parotid and sublingual, are mainly responsible for the production of saliva, which is needed for all the body’s functions.

Saliva also plays an important role in self-cleansing and in the fight against cavities by maintaining a neutral pH in the oral cavity.

That’s why when we talk about the health of the oral cavity; we consider the care of all its structures, not just the teeth.

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