Have you ever been amazed at how quickly a cut or sore spot in your mouth heals? Those cuts or scrapes from a crunchy snack or small burns from hot drinks can be painful and cause swelling, but only a few hours later you’re on to your next meal. Let’s take a scientific look at why this is the case. Three things contribute to a super quick oral healing process.
Simplicity of Oral Tissue Regeneration
In contract to organ or skin tissue, the oral tissue tends to repair itself very quickly. Most of the tissue lining your cheeks, gums, tongue, and inner lips is mucous. Mucous tissue is primarily made up of ground substance, the mucous-like layer that cells float around in, with some fibers and cells for connective purposes. In contrast, skin tissue has several layers of ectodermic tissue to reconstruct when it is wounded. Since Mucous Tissue has a much simpler composition, it also has a faster, more straightforward regeneration process and shorter time period.
A Regular Blood Supply
In addition to a simpler structure, the easy access to blood supply makes healing the oral cavity a lot faster. Mucous tissue is highly vascular, meaning it’s very rich in blood vessels. The blood brings a lot of nutrients and oxygen to the damage site to ramp up healing production. The oral cavity also happens to be very close to the head and neck, which both have a seemingly endless and readily available stream of blood.
Healing Properties of Oral Fluids
A study performed in the Netherlands and published on ScienceDaily.com in 2008 revealed that human saliva also may greatly affect how quickly wounds of the mouth heal. Specifically, the small protein found in saliva called histatin did more than previously thought. Up until that time, it was known as an antibacterial agent. But the study found that a wound created in a culture of cell growth healed in just over 16 hours, while the non-treated culture hadn’t closed all the way. A small protein in saliva previously only believed to kill bacteria was responsible for the healing.
Another enzyme found in mucous tissue and saliva is called secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) is also involved in most bodily healing procedures. Its properties also include anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal. It’s also been recently shown by NIDCR investigators that SLPI actually blocks HIV-1 infection. They’re like bouncers for our immune systems.
Your Body’s Got It Under Control
Your body knows what it’s doing when it comes to healing. You shouldn’t worry if you or a family member gets a cut or sore in your mouth. It will heal at lightning speed. If you’d like to help it along, don’t over think it. Gurgling or rinsing the mouth with saline can aid in sealing up the wound. A black or green tea bag that’s been submerged in hot water and cooled down can be pressed onto a wound to prevent infection because of the anti-bacterial properties in the tea’s tannins. Similarly, drops of diluted essential oils can keep the wound clean. Try to drink even more water than normal to make sure the body has what it needs to bolster saliva and mucous tissue production. Then rest assured your mouth will be back to normal in no time.