Lighthouse Dental Care
88 Ryders Lane, Stratford, CT 06614
What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Whether it was eggs, pancakes, cereal, or toast, it all had to go through the same entrance: your mouth. This is the beginning of a tract called the digestive system, which contains your teeth, your throat, your stomach, your intestines, and other parts of your body. They work together to digest your food.
The digestive system is made of a group of organs that convert food into molecules, like glucose, that your body uses so that you can grow and move. The system has two subgroups: the alimentary canal and the accessory organs. The esophagus, a muscular tube in your throat; your stomach; and your small and large intestines are part of the alimentary canal. The food you eat goes through the alimentary canal. The accessory organs, including the salivary glands in your mouth, the pancreas, the liver, and the gallbladder, help with digestion but don’t directly interact with the food.
The food you eat is full of nutrients to fuel your body. You’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes because they have vitamin A, that milk will strengthen your bones because it has calcium, and that chicken is good for you because it has protein. Without digestion, none of those nutrients would matter because your body wouldn’t be able to use them. In digestion, your body uses your teeth, stomach acids and enzymes, and bacteria in your intestines to break your food into tiny pieces that the bloodstream absorbs and sends to your cells.
The digestive system starts at your mouth. When you put food in your mouth, your teeth break the food into smaller pieces, and the salivary glands under your tongue and on the sides and roof of your mouth release saliva. This saliva mixes with your food to make it easier to swallow. It also has enzymes that start breaking carbohydrates into simple sugars for the body.
When you swallow, the processed food created by chewing and saliva, called a bolus, slides down your esophagus. At the end, the bolus drops into your stomach. Gastric juices containing powerful acids and enzymes mix with the bolus to make chyme, a semi-fluid paste. Muscles working in the stomach keep the food and juices moving during this process.
From the stomach, muscles push the chyme to the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. Digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver and gallbladder are there to further break down the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in your food. In the lower parts of your small intestine, the jejunum and the ileum, the food is broken down into molecules, and villi on the walls of the small intestine absorb the nutrients.
The next stop is the large intestine, or the colon. The large intestine removes water from the food that the body did not digest. What’s left behind is stool, also called feces. The stool makes its way to the lower part of the large intestine, where the chamber called the rectum stores it until it is released through the anus.
The human mouth has three main types of teeth: incisors, canines, and molars. Teeth are like bones, but they are a lot stronger. They have four tissues: enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp. The first, enamel, is the part of the tooth you’re cleaning when you brush your teeth. Enamel, a hard tissue, is about 95% mineral. Underneath this hard outer covering, the dentin connects to the nerves in your tooth, and the cementum covers the tooth roots. The pulp at the center contains all of your tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
Even though teeth aren’t technically bones, you still need to strengthen them the way you strengthen your bones. In addition to what you can do at home, going to a dentist can help keep your teeth strong. It’s important to get regular checkups from a Stratford, CT, dentistry practice to make sure that your teeth are in good shape.
As the beginning of your digestive system, teeth are essential. Chewing food is the first step in converting it into molecules that your body can use. If your teeth aren’t healthy, then you can’t break your food down as effectively.
Poor oral health affects other bodily functions, too, not just digestion. Doctors have linked crooked, crowded, or uneven teeth or teeth grinding to conditions like sleep apnea, in which someone repeatedly stops breathing during sleep. This dangerous condition requires immediate sleep apnea treatment. Stratford dentists can help with this, too.
Brushing daily, flossing, and eating healthy foods are part of managing your dental health. Dentists also recommend going for a professional cleaning every six months, so make sure to see a Stratford children’s dentist regularly.