Very few features of the human body operate on a manual, instant response basis. It only goes just as about as far as people closing their eyes, covering their ears and pinching their noses. The action is conscious and the result is immediate. But, none of them work like a true trigger. Not like the uvula, anyway. You know the uvula. The dangly muscle near the end of your mouth? The one that activates your gag reflex on contact? The thing that can ruin your teeth? The uvula. It does all of that.
Over Your Head
Doctors and their patients have a tendency of forgetting about the palatine uvula, not entirely to their fault. But, from medical literature to oral care regimens, the uvula’s influence on speech, digestion and hygiene often go unnoticed, and the dismissive attitude towards a minor oral feature may be allowing dental problems to go under some people’s radars.
Dentists from LiverpoolSmileStudio.co.uk note that a wide range of uvular deformities may be causing dental issues to unwary patients. They mention how individuals thought to be born with speech and mastication problems may have been suffering from uvular defects all along, and why patients and their dentists must be more watchful of uvular deformities.
Under Your Nose
In a study published by the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, researchers prepared case overviews for variations of uvular deformities, citing the ways each type has affected the person’s speech, dental condition and overall health. What they found were instances of patients discovering their uvular deformities very late in life, possibly putting them at risk of contracting other types of oral diseases.
Researchers wrote that in one case, a 42-year-old man came to them with decayed teeth in the upper and lower jaws. Since his childhood, the subject had suffered from a speech impediment and difficulty in swallowing. After conducting an intraoral examination, the researchers found that the man had no uvula, and the area surrounding it had improperly developed.
Very few dentists, and even fewer patients, lose sleep over failing to maintain the cleanliness of their uvula, mainly because doing so is both impossible and unnecessary. But, for the unfortunate instances where a person’s uvula is either deformed or outright missing, paying attention to this seemingly insignificant accessory at the back of your mouth makes all the difference.