Beyond chewing, gestural and aesthetic function, the mouth is one of the most versatile parts of the human body, being necessary to develop different and diverse functions. It is the starting point of the digestive system, through which food is ingested and prepared for swallowing. It also intervenes in language, through the joint articulation of the lips, tongue and teeth. In addition, the mouth participates in a secondary and complementary way in breathing. We can’t forget that it also captures the sense of taste, allowing the perception of flavours and greater enjoyment of food, provided we have good oral health.
The mouth presents a whole series of structures that act in a coordinated way to allow the development of activities as diverse as chewing, gesticulation or breathing.
Structures of the mouth:
- Lips: They are external and make up the most visible part of the mouth.
- Mucous membranes: Pink membranes that join with the gums and cover the parts of the mouth where there is no bone.
- Gums: Tissues that cover the maxillary bones and surround the teeth.
- Maxillary: Bones that support the teeth. They can be higher or lower.
- Tongue: Organ formed by muscles where taste buds and salivary glands are found.
- Palate: It is part of the upper jaw. Its anterior part (hard palate) is formed by bone and its posterior part (soft palate) continues to the larynx.
- Teeth: Whitish structures that are in the dental arches, which are in turn in the gums. They form two antagonistic rows that connect at the front of the mouth.
Of all the structures found in the mouth, teeth are the most important. The teeth are the hardest structures of the human body, being responsible for the crushing and chewing of food, which must pass to the digestive tract in a semi-solid state in order to be digested.
In advanced ages, people have 32 definitive teeth, 16 on each side of the mouth. Four types of teeth are distinguished, which differ in their form and purpose.
Types of teeth:
- Incisors: Located in the most central and anterior part of the arch. They are rectangular in shape and have a sharp edge to help us cut food.
- Canines: Placed after the incisors. Its pointed shape helps tear food. They also help guide the movements of the jaw.
- Premolars: Located between the canines and the molars, they are characterized by having a double cusp. With them the crushing of food begins.
- Molars: They are the last teeth of the arch. Its horizontal surface has grooves and cusps and its function is the crushing of food.
This set of teeth constitutes the final dentition, whose eruption begins around 6 years of age. In childhood, people develop a temporary set of teeth consisting of 20 teeth that we call “milk”, which are smaller and whiter than the definitive ones. Temporary teeth require the same care as final teeth, because we must maintain proper dental hygiene.