Should You Brush the Roof of Your Mouth?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), parents should start a child’s oral hygiene as soon as the first tooth erupts into their mouth. This attention to clean teeth continues with parents brushing their child’s teeth for the next few years, with twice daily brushing for two minutes. This important part of daily hygiene can be handed over to children, with parental supervision, as they mature. The ADA recommends children should not brush their teeth unsupervised until they can spit the toothpaste out without swallowing it. Typically, this is around age six. But what parts of the mouth should you brush, should you brush the roof of your mouth? Find out more below.

To learn more about maintaining optimal oral health, schedule an appointment at Trident Dental for a comprehensive oral examination and professional teeth cleaning.

There’s More to Brushing Than Teeth

While it is called “tooth” brushing, and we use a “tooth” brush, most people are not taught the importance of brushing more than their teeth. Toothbrushing is crucial to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. However, we now understand that “oral” health is more than preventing these two chronic diseases. Researchers have found possible links between oral bacteria and several medical conditions, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Should You Brush the Roof of Your Mouth?

It is easy to overlook the roof of your mouth since it is mostly out of sight when brushing your teeth. However, your palate is an essential and interesting part of your mouth. There is a hard portion toward the front of your mouth and a soft palate toward the back. The palate has important functions in speech, swallowing, and breathing. Additionally, the palate contains many salivary glands and taste buds that play a role in maintaining a healthy diet.

Two bones on each side of your face come together before you are born to form the hard portion of the palate. The fusion of these bones is complete during your teen years. The bony palate is covered by a soft tissue known as a mucous membrane that contains hundreds of salivary glands and cells that can secrete small amounts of mucous.

The bony portion of your palate can be bumpy—with possibly one large bump in the middle. Additionally, the soft tissue part of the roof of your mouth can have ridges known as rugae that can create deep crevices. Both of these anatomical structures can create areas that allow bacteria to accumulate. Light brushing, however, can remove these microbes and eliminate their capacity to cause bad breath or other problems.

What Other Parts of Your Mouth Need Brushing?

After brushing your teeth, or your child’s, for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush, it is recommended to brush other parts of your mouth where bacteria can accumulate. Developing this habit keeps the bacteria count low to keep your mouth healthy, preventing general health problems, and maintaining fresh breath. Include brushing these parts of your mouth:

  • Tongue. The tongue is known to harbor bacteria that cause bad breath, especially morning breath. As you sleep, your mouth dries and fails to wash away bacteria from your tongue. These bacteria produce sulfur compounds that cause halitosis or bad breath.

  • Inside cheeks. When teaching children, it needs to be emphasized that brushing the cheeks should be done gently. Gentle brushing removes any remaining food particles and bacteria that can threaten oral health.

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