Holistic and Cosmetic Dentist Anthony Kim Blog Series: What's inside the mouth?Dr. Kim | January 7, 2012
This blog series “what’s inside the mouth” is going to explore the various parts of the inside of the mouth and what roles they play for chewing, digestion, and speaking. The mouth and its surrounding tissues are considered a “chewing system” all must work together for proper function to occur.
I am going to begin this blog series discussing the importance of the “Oral Mucosa.” What is the oral mucosa? It is the tissue that is seen when you open your mouth, basically everything but the teeth in your mouth. The tissue surrounding the teeth, cheeks, and bone is a protective lining made of the same mucous membrane that the inner lining of the nose is made of. There are 3 different types of mucosa found in the mouth; for example the tissue on the palate can withstand the abrasiveness of food where the cheek mucosa is more fragile thus needing constant moisture from saliva secretions.
The function of the oral mucosa is to protect the oral tissues and body from infection from bacteria and irritants. Although this tissue may feel soft, it is made of a very strong collagen material called keratin. Another important function of the oral mucosa is to absorb certain nutrients or medications. The oral mucosa varies in color depending on the color of one’s skin. For those who have fair skin, their oral mucosa will be light pink in color. Where as, those with darker skin will have pink to brown or freckled oral mucosa. The oral mucosa is also susceptible to infection and cancer depending on one’s lifestyle. The following is a list of disease or infections that affect the oral mucosa:
Oral Mucosa Diseases/Infections:
Better known as “Canker Sores” affect roughly 20- 40% of the population. They are found inside the mouth and are typically painful. The exact cause of these lesions are not known however they are associated with: stress, hormonal changes, anxiety, and anti-inflammatory medications. Medical conditions such as Celiac disease, Chron disease, and Bhecet;s disease. There is also a known association with the bacteria H. pylori which cause peptic ulcers.
The most common areas for oral cancer to occur are on the sides of the tongue, hard/soft palate, lip tissue, and on the oral mucosa itself. Oral cancers are typically red/white in color and are not necessarily painful. It is always best to have a suspicious area checked by a dental professional as opposed to waiting to see if it goes away. Oral cancer treatment is most successful when it is caught in its earliest stage.
This is a chronic inflammatory disease which causes the oral mucosa to appear white and red in color in a “lace like” pattern. This can appear on the cheek tissue, tongue, and gum tissue. At times lichen planus can be very painful and other times there is no discomfort.
Technically, lips are not inside the mouth however I did want to mention the importance of knowing the location of where oral herpes can occur. Many people know these lesions as “cold sores” however in my opinion this term does not justify this infection. Herpes of the mouth is very easily transmitted from object to person and person to person. From sharing a cup, kissing, and oral sex the herpes simplex virus when in its active stage will infect anyone who comes in contact with this particular virus. This virus can spread to the eye causing blindness if it happens to get into the eyeball. It is also now linked directly to oral cancer. Oral cancer screenings are essential for anyone who has ever had a cold sore.
My Inland Empire Cosmetic Holistic dental office offers the latest in technology when it comes to oral cancer screening of the oral mucosa. We recommend every patient have a Velscope oral cancer screening once a year. If you are looking for a dental office that is focused on oral health and total body wellness, please contact us at (951)686-3666.
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