Health Topics

Mouth and teeth

Dental Health
National Library of Medicine
Oral Health

It's important to take care of your mouth and teeth starting in childhood. If you don't, you could have problems with your teeth and gums - like cavities or even tooth loss.

Here's how to keep your mouth and teeth healthy:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between your teeth every day with floss or another type of between-the-teeth cleaner
  • Snack smart - limit sugary snacks
  • Don't smoke or chew tobacco
  • See your dentist or oral health professional regularly

NIH: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research


Oral Health
Oral Hygiene
Dental Care
Mouth and Teeth
Wellness and Lifestyle
It's important to take care of your mouth and teeth starting in childhood. If you don't, you could have problems with your teeth and gums - like cavities or ...
Mouth Disorders
National Library of Medicine

Your mouth is one of the most important parts of your body. It has many different functions. It allows you to

  • Take in food and drink
  • Breathe in air
  • Start digestion, with your teeth chewing the food you eat and your salivary glands releasing saliva to help break down the food
  • Speak and sing
  • Show emotion, by smiling or pouting

Any problem that affects your mouth can make it hard to eat, drink, or even smile. Some common mouth problems include

  • Cold sores - painful sores on the lips and around the mouth, caused by a virus
  • Canker sores - painful sores in the mouth, caused by bacteria or viruses
  • Thrush - a yeast infection that causes white patches in your mouth
  • Leukoplakia - white patches of excess cell growth on the cheeks, gums or tongue, common in smokers
  • Dry mouth - a lack of enough saliva, caused by some medicines and certain diseases
  • Gum or tooth problems
  • Bad breath

Treatment for mouth disorders varies, depending on the problem. If a mouth problem is caused by some other disease, treating that disease can help. It is also important to keep your mouth clean and healthy by brushing, flossing, and not using tobacco.


Mouth Diseases
Ear, Nose and Throat
Mouth and Teeth
Your mouth is one of the most important parts of your body. It has many different functions. It allows you to Take in food and drink Breathe in air Start ...
Child Dental Health
National Library of Medicine
Dental Health, Child
Dental Sealants
Oral Health, Child

Healthy teeth are important to your child's overall health. From the time your child is born, there are things you can do to promote healthy teeth and prevent cavities. For babies, you should clean teeth with a soft, clean cloth or baby's toothbrush. Avoid putting the baby to bed with a bottle and check teeth regularly for spots or stains.

For all children, you should

  • Start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when they are two years old. You might start sooner, if a dentist or doctor suggests it.
  • Provide healthy foods and limit sweet snacks and drinks
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups

Forming good habits at a young age can help your child have healthy teeth for life.

NIH: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research


Dental Care for Children
Children and Teenagers
Mouth and Teeth
Healthy teeth are important to your child's overall health. From the time your child is born, there are things you can do to promote healthy teeth and prevent ...
Oral Cancer
National Library of Medicine
Mouth Cancer
Tongue Cancer

Oral cancer can form in any part of the mouth. Most oral cancers begin in the flat cells that cover the surfaces of your mouth, tongue, and lips. Anyone can get oral cancer, but the risk is higher if you are male, use tobacco, drink lots of alcohol, have HPV, or have a history of head or neck cancer. Frequent sun exposure is also a risk factor for lip cancer.

Symptoms of oral cancer include

  • White or red patches in your mouth
  • A mouth sore that won't heal
  • Bleeding in your mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Problems or pain with swallowing
  • A lump in your neck
  • An earache

Tests to diagnose oral cancer include a physical exam, endoscopy, biopsy, and imaging tests. Oral cancer treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Some patients have a combination of treatments.

NIH: National Cancer Institute


Mouth Neoplasms
Cancers
Mouth and Teeth
... won't heal Bleeding in your mouth Loose teeth Problems or pain with ... patients have a combination of treatments. NIH: National Cancer Institute
Anatomy
National Library of Medicine

Anatomy is the science that studies the structure of the body. On this page, you'll find links to descriptions and pictures of the human body's parts and organ systems from head to toe.


Anatomy
Digestive System
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Eyes and Vision
Bones, Joints and Muscles
Kidneys and Urinary System
Brain and Nerves
Lungs and Breathing
Ear, Nose and Throat
Mouth and Teeth
Skin, Hair and Nails
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Immune System
Endocrine System
Male Reproductive System
Anatomy is the science that studies the structure of the body. On this page, you'll find links to descriptions and pictures of the human body's parts and organ ...
Bad Breath
National Library of Medicine
Breath Odor
Halitosis

There are many reasons why you might have bad breath. You can get it if you don't brush and floss regularly. Bacteria that build up in your mouth and between your teeth produce the bad odor. Other problems in your mouth, such as gum disease, dry mouth, or cavities, may also cause it. Sinusitis or problems with your nose may be to blame. You can also have bad breath if you eat some foods, like raw onions, garlic, or cabbage. And of course smoking causes its own bad smell. Some diseases and medicines can cause a specific breath odor.

Having good dental habits, like brushing and flossing regularly, help fight bad breath. Mouthwashes, mints or chewing gum may make your breath fresher. If you have a disease that causes the bad breath, treating the disease may help give you fresher breath.


Halitosis
Mouth and Teeth
Symptoms
... floss regularly. Bacteria that build up in your mouth and between your teeth produce the bad odor. Other problems in your mouth, such as gum disease, dry mouth, or cavities, ...
Smokeless Tobacco
National Library of Medicine
Chewing Tobacco
Dip
Oral Tobacco
Snuff
Spit Tobacco
Tobacco, Smokeless

Many people who chew tobacco or dip snuff think it's safer than smoking. But you don't have to smoke tobacco for it to be dangerous. Chewing or dipping carries risks like

  • Cancer of the mouth
  • Decay of exposed tooth roots
  • Pulling away of the gums from the teeth
  • White patches or red sores in the mouth that can turn to cancer

Recent research shows the dangers of smokeless tobacco may go beyond the mouth. It might also play a role in other cancers, heart disease and stroke.

Smokeless tobacco contains more nicotine than cigarettes. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that makes it hard to stop using tobacco once you start. Having a quit date and a quitting plan can help you stop successfully.

NIH: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research


Tobacco, Smokeless
Substance Abuse Problems
Mouth and Teeth
... help you stop successfully. NIH: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Tooth Decay
National Library of Medicine
Cavities
Dental Caries
Dental Sealants
Plaque, Dental

You call it a cavity. Your dentist calls it tooth decay or dental caries. They're all names for a hole in your tooth. The cause of tooth decay is plaque, a sticky substance in your mouth made up mostly of germs. Tooth decay starts in the outer layer, called the enamel. Without a filling, the decay can get deep into the tooth and its nerves and cause a toothache or abscess.

To help prevent cavities

  • Brush your teeth every day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between your teeth every day with floss or another type of between-the-teeth cleaner
  • Snack smart - limit sugary snacks
  • See your dentist or oral health professional regularly

Dental Caries
Mouth and Teeth
... a hole in your tooth. The cause of tooth decay is plaque, a sticky substance in your mouth made up mostly of germs. Tooth decay starts in the outer layer, called the ...
Dentures
National Library of Medicine
Dental Implants
False Teeth

Dentures are false teeth made to replace teeth you have lost. They can be complete or partial. Complete dentures cover your entire upper or lower jaw. Partials replace one or a few teeth.

Dentures may feel strange at first. Speaking and eating may feel different. Be careful when wearing dentures because they may make it harder for you to feel hot foods and liquids. Also, you may not notice biting on a bone from your food.

In the beginning, your dentist may want to see you often to make sure the dentures fit. Over time, your mouth will change and you may need to have your dentures adjusted or replaced. Be sure to let your dentist handle these adjustments.

If your dentures move too much in your mouth, denture adhesive may help. In some cases, your dentist may suggest that you switch to dental implants. They are permanent, and they replace both the roots and teeth.

Keep your dentures clean and free from food that can cause stains, bad breath, or swollen gums. Brush them every day with a denture care product. Take your dentures out of your mouth at night, and put them in water or a denture-cleansing liquid.

NIH: National Institute on Aging


Dentures
Mouth and Teeth
... care product. Take your dentures out of your mouth at night, and put them in water or a denture-cleansing liquid. NIH: National Institute on Aging
Cosmetic Dentistry
National Library of Medicine
Dental Implants
Dentistry, Cosmetic
Tooth Whitening

If you have stained, broken or uneven teeth, cosmetic dentistry can help. Cosmetic dentistry is different from orthodontic treatment, which can straighten your teeth with braces or other devices.

Cosmetic dental procedures include

  • Bleaching to make teeth whiter
  • Repairing chips or rough spots with fillings that match your teeth
  • Filling cavities with tooth-colored materials
  • Reshaping teeth that don't match the others
  • Closing gaps between teeth
  • Covering broken teeth with porcelain crowns

Esthetics, Dental
Mouth and Teeth
If you have stained, broken or uneven teeth, cosmetic dentistry can help. Cosmetic dentistry is different from orthodontic treatment, which can straighten ...