MOUTH, TEETH AND GUMS

 

The mouth or oral cavity is a multifunctional organ. In fact, apart from being the orifice through which animals feed themselves, it is the first part of the digestive tract where food is chewed and where digestion starts. It also plays a role in speech, communication and respiration. In man, the mouth is delimited by the lips (at the front), by the cheeks (laterally), by the pharynx (at the back), by the palate (at the top); in the bottom part, by a muscular floor, stretched inwardly by an arch formed by the mandible or lower jaw.

The internal cavity of the mouth is enclosed by the dental arches consisting in teeth and gums. The teeth are the organs with a masticatory function: they shred food, reducing it to small fragments with the help of the tongue and of the saliva. They are the most mineralized organs of the human body; in fact, they are formed by dentin (or ivory), a highly resistant bone tissue with the function of protecting the tooth pulp from temperature variations and from mechanical stress. The tooth structure is composed of three parts: the tooth crown, the visible part of the tooth;  the cervical part forming a transitional tissue between the visible part of the tooth and the “hidden” part, around which the mucosa forms the gum; finally, the root which is the part inserting itself in the lower jaw.  The mandibular space hosting the single tooth is called alveoli.

The gum is a soft type of tissue surrounding the teeth and covering the alveolar process, with the function of isolating the periodontium from the external environment. It is characterized by a fast metabolism enabling the most superficial, keratinized layers to renew themselves, preventing bacteria from accumulating on its surface. Teeth and gums are extremely delicate anatomical structures prone to several different pathologies deriving mainly from the accumulation of bacteria (with proliferation) on their surface owing to genetic predisposition or low/incorrect oral hygiene.

The most widespread and harmful problems affecting the teeth are caries and periodontal disease, which can cause loss of teeth unless they are intercepted in time. Instead, among diseases involving the gums, the most common ones are gingivitis and periodontitis.  Gingivitis in particular is an inflammation of the gingival tissues, characterized by swelling, redness, heat sensation and bleeding following the accumulation of plaque; it can cause an increased thickness of the free gum, with the depth of the gingival sulcus increasing, as well. On the other hand, periodontitis is an infection involving tissues that support the teeth; it causes a weakening of the gingival margin, with the gingival sulcus becoming deeper while the gums get thicker: in such case a periodontal pocket forms.

It is therefore important to follow an accurate oral hygiene, using products that are effective in reducing the bioburden in the oral cavity, while strengthening the gums and respecting the physiological balance of this specific anatomical area.