Knowing the ins and outs of Buccal Cavity – Why is it important to maintain our oral health?
Oral cavity, or more simply put, the mouth, is much more than what we usually think is a mere composition of lips, teeth, and tongue. From initiating our digestive process to playing a role in speech utterance, its role cannot be overstated. However, many a time, we get confused over whether the term ‘oral cavity’ is synonymous to ‘buccal cavity’ or not. While the former is derived from the Latin word ‘oralis’ that means mouth or opening, buccal (from Latin, bucca) means cheek. Nevertheless, both of them are used interchangeably.
With that said, the next question arises –
What role does each part of the buccal cavity serve in our human body?
From palate, vestibule, glottis to more, human’s oral cavity comprises several parts each playing a unique function of its own. Out of them are three main parts that perform the chief roles. Starting from the point through which the food is taken inside our body are our lips. Following that is buccal mucosa, the inner lining of our cheeks and the back of our lips, which is responsible to give a distinct shape to our cheeks. However, the largest part of human’s oral cavity is the tongue that performs several functions pertaining to taste, speech, and digestion. The teeth are the hardest substance in the human body that break down the ingested food, partly aided by minor salivary glands that secrete enzymes to break down food. This is where the digestive process of our human body comes in!
Breaking down the ingested food into smaller molecules and converting them into energy to keep us alive and help us perform our day-to-day tasks, the process of digestion is complex yet highly crucial. However, this sophisticated mechanism of food intake, its break-down, and conversion initiates at the oral cavity.
How does the digestion process start in oral cavity?
When food is taken in our mouth, it is the teeth that break them down and the saliva that moistens them. The enzyme amylase in saliva helps break carbohydrates into sugar molecules. With the movement of our tongue, the broken down food is further softened and glided at the back our mouth where they can be swallowed.
However, not only is the role of oral cavity limited to digestion. It also acts as a secondary passage for air to enter and exit as we breathe in and out in case nasal cavity doesn’t function properly but, with the absence of mucus lining and cilia like that in nasal cavity, the oral cavity cannot filter or moisten the inhaled air. Furthermore, it is also instrumental in production of speech because it is the air exiting from the voice box through the oral cavity that is harnessed to utter speech. Therefore, a minor malfunction of it can cause a major effect on the way we eat and speak.
Considering the significance of our oral cavity, it is crucial to keep it healthy. Weak teeth and gums will not only prevent you from breaking down the food properly, it will also lead to bad breath and may increase your risk of other serious health problems. In fact, many people are unaware of the connection of oral health to overall health. Saliva for instance also serves as an antibody against lethal viruses and bacteria and therefore weakened saliva can lead to fungal infection in our mouth.
Now that you have enough reasons to ensure the health of your oral cavity, how exactly should you do it?
The basics of keeping our oral health robust are regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing. In addition to this, there are certain lifestyle changes you will have to make such as getting rid of the habit of drinking soda and smoking. The phosphoric and citric acid in soda wear away the tooth surface, thus weakening the enamel. Result? Tooth cavities. Sugar also causes plaque formation and tooth decay. Therefore, cutting out on or lessening the intake of sodas and sugary food items is crucial to maintain your oral health. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes also enables bacteria to accumulate in your mouth and degrades the bone, making you more prone not only to tooth loss but oral cancer as well.
Cutting out on the don’ts and adopting healthy habits as simple as brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing can help you avoid damage to your oral cavity and overall health.