The Mouth & Your Overall Health

More than just a pretty smile

The mouth (oral cavity) is part of the digestive system. It includes the lips, cheeks, roof of the mouth (called the palate), floor of the mouth and the part of the tongue in the mouth (oral tongue). The structures in the mouth help you speak, taste and chew.   The health of your mouth can affect many aspects of your overall health.



The mouth begins at the border between the skin and the lips. The roof of the mouth is formed by the hard palate and the soft palate. The mouth leads into the oropharynx (the middle part of the pharynx) and the soft palate separates the mouth from the nasopharynx (the upper part of the pharynx). The inner surface of the cheeks forms the sides of the mouth. The tongue takes up most of the floor of the mouth (the lowest part of the mouth).

The mouth can be divided into specific areas, including:

  • the lips
  • the soft palate
  • the tonsils
  • the tongue
  • the uvula
  • the floor of the mouth
  • the inner lining of the cheeks (buccal mucosa)
  • the upper jawbone (maxilla) and hard palate (the bony part at the front of the roof of the mouth formed by part of the upper jawbone)
  • the gums and alveolar ridge (the ridge-like border of the jaws that contains the sockets of the teeth)
  • the teeth
  • the lower jawbone (mandible)

When your dentist examines your mouth, he or she is looking at all of these structures.


The mouth has many jobs. It analyzes food and other materials that are put into it so you can decide if they should or shouldn’t be swallowed. The first step of digesting food happens in the mouth. We use our teeth to chew food. Chemicals in our saliva start to break down starches (carbohydrates). Saliva in the mouth also makes food slippery so it can be swallowed more easily. Taste buds on the tongue tell us what our food tastes like. The tongue and soft palate also move food around in the mouth to help with chewing and swallowing.

The mouth also helps us to:

  • speak
  • breathe
  • drink
  • change our facial expressions
  • kiss


Good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups can help maintain your overall health.

Healthy mouth, healthy body.



Cliffcrest Dental

2995 Kingston Rd, Scarborough,
ON M1M 1P1, Canada