Why do We Have a Hard Palate and a Soft Palate?

What is the difference between the two and what is the function of each?

The hard palate and the soft palate have different functions but together form the roof of your mouth.  anatomy of mouth SM - paid - shutterstock 220669927

The hard palate is the bony part that is the front two-thirds of the roof of your mouth. It holds your teeth (and gums) and creates a chamber where your tongue can move. Thus, it is important to your speech.

The soft palate is the soft one-third of the roof of your mouth, made of fleshy soft tissues and muscles and ends with the uvula (the dangling bit in the back of your throat). Their primary function is to allow you to swallow and direct the food to your esophagus rather than into your nose and your respiratory tract. It is critical, as well, in directing air and sound into and through your mouth to make the appropriate sounds when you speak. The soft palate also plays a role in breathing as a wall between the esophagus and your respiratory tract. This allows you to eat and breathe at the same time. It will not, however, allow you to swallow and breathe simultaneously.

Your Amalgam Fillings Are Fine

On Sept 24, the FDA issued a statement that dental amalgam fillings are "not harmful to the general population, and treatment options should be thoroughly discussed by the patient and dentist."   amalgam filling - paid - Depositphotos 14039145 s-2019


The FDA statement also said that "certain groups may be at greater risk for potential negative effects from exposure to mercury." In this context FDA also noted "there is little to no information" known about the effects dental amalgam may have on these specific groups. Finally, they "stressed there 'was no new scientific evidence cited as part of the FDA recommendation.'"


There have been reactions to the FDA statement. Notably, a response from the American Dental Association, the organization "reaffirmed its position . . . that dental amalgam is a durable, safe and effective restorative material." They noted agreement with the FDA that "existing amalgam fillings in good condition should not be removed or replaced unless it is considered medically necessary."


At CompleteDentalCare in Salem,VA, we are always ready to answer your questions about filling materials and other matters. Further, it is our custom to discuss treatment options of all sorts with our patients. Determining the best filling material for any tooth should be based upon "size and location of the cavity, patient history, cosmetic concerns and cost."

The ADA statement can be found at

How do I Know if my Child has a Cavity?

It is not always easy for parents to identify the signs that a child has a cavity, particularly if the cavity is on the side of a tooth (or between teeth). Cavities are not uncommon for children. In fact, the CDC has reported that 20%of all children between the ages of 5 and 11 have tooth decay or one or more cavities.   little-girl-is-having-her-teeth-checked-by-dentist - SM  graphicstock - paid - H0dMTFcb-
Your child's dentist will identify cavities at the time of their visits to the office. But, in the meantime, a cavity can be very uncomfortable for your child. Identifying cavities early reduces the damage the decay will cause and reduces the amount of drilling needed to fill the cavity.
So how do you know when your child has a cavity, even if the child doesn't know how to tell you?
1. Compare the color of the child's teeth. In the early stages, a cavity will appear as a bright white spot on the tooth. It will be brighter than the enamel of the tooth. In time, it will turn yellow, then brown. Finally, you will be able to see or feel a very small pit or hole in the tooth.
2. Pain in the tooth is a clear indication of a problem. Your child might complain about pain from a toothache. In some cases, your child might say that it hurts to chew their food. Often, your child will experience some sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages. If your child can locate the pain in a part of their mouth, you will likely find a cavity.
3. Younger children often have difficulty communicating tooth pain. The things to look for include appetite changes, not wanting a favorite food, or not wanting you to brush their teeth.
A final reminder: don't ignore cavities in baby teeth. They are important for development and spacing for permanent teeth, for eating, and for speech.
To your child's dental health,

Oral Health Tips for Fall

The arrival of Fall signals a number of changes that will come in the next few months. We are deciding how to help children enjoy Halloween in a COVID19 world. We will soon transition from daylight saving time to standard time. The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing, and we are preparing our homes for the winter.fall foods - pixabay cco free - thanksgiving-2828718 640

The fall season is also associated with a number of oral health considerations. Let’s take a look at some of the things we need to consider during the fall months.

  1. It’s a good time to replace your toothbrush.
  2. It’s a great time to be certain that you understand your dental insurance coverage (if you have insurance). Have you used all of the allowed benefits for the current year? It is often a good idea to ensure that you deal with any dental problems so that you will have the full benefit available to you in the new year.
  3. Make end-of-year dental appointments for your family.
  4. Fall brings aching joints to many people. Some of you may experience jaw pain. Your jaw has a joint – temporomandibular – that may need attention. Your dentist can help you manage this pain.
  5. Turning on the heat in our homes causes dryness in the air. Dryer air contributes to dry mouth. Your dentist can help you understand, treat, and manage your dry mouth.
  6. The autumn season offers children abundant opportunities to enjoy a huge amount of candy and sugary treats. Parents will need to manage their sugar consumption. This is also a good time to reinforce dental hygiene habits.
  7. Sensitive teeth tend to become more sensitive in the fall. Sensitivity can signal cracked or broken teeth, receding gums, and damage to the enamel of the teeth. Identifying these issues is a great reason to see your dentist before the end of the year.
  8. Cooling temperatures make hot beverages more popular. Avoiding tooth darkening includes control of the beverages that will stain your teeth. These include coffee, tea (especially black tea), red wine, and dishes made with red tomato sauce. Keep in mind that anything that will stain a white tee-shirt can also stain your teeth. If you are concerned about the darkening of teeth, discuss it with your dentist. She can help you to evaluate the available options and decide what is best for you.
  9. Your diet also contributes to your oral health. Some foods are good for your teeth. These include dairy products (they provide calcium, phosphates, and Vitamin D), fiber-rich fruits ad vegetables (apples, carrots, celery) that stimulate saliva production to protect your teeth from decay.

These tips will not work magic, but they will put you on the right path for oral health in the fall and in the winter.


Many people are feeling stressed and anxious in the Pandemic environment. Everyone’s life has been changed in some way. Many people deal with stress and anxiety by grinding their teeth (sometimes without realizing they are doing it). This is intended to be simply a quick reference summary of key facts about teeth grinding (Bruxism).bruxism - paid - Depositphotos 111808706 s-2019

Problems commonly caused by teeth grinding

  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Muscle tightness
  • Loose or broken teeth

The two types of bruxism

  • Diurnal bruxism – grinding while awake
  • Nocturnal bruxism – grinding during sleep

One way teeth grinding can be prevented by using a mouth guard designed for the purpose. The American Dental Association identifies 3 types of bruxism mouth guards:

  • Custom made - by a dentist (usually the most comfort)
  • Boil and Bite – You buy a kit over the counter, then boil the guard in water to soften it. Finally, you bite down on it to make it conform to the shape of your mouth and teeth.
  • Stock – Some companies offer pre-fabricated mouthguards that are ready to wear (probably the leas comfortable.

It is important to see your dentist and discuss the treatment options available to you. A mouth guard may be right for you. Sometimes other treatments are in order:

  • Repairing damage to your teeth.
  • Exercises or physical therapy to reduce jaw stiffness and pain.
  • Psychotherapy to help you manage the stress or anxiety causing your bruxism.
  • Medication to relax muscles an reduce anxiety or stress.

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