The tongue is a mobile organ, consisting of many interwoven muscles each building up as one main tissue. Throughout the tongue, mucus membranes, glands, and receptors are spread across in a network. The structure consists of the dorsum (which is located at the top of the tongue), taste buds, and the serous glands. Typically, the tongue measures between 3.1 to 3.4 inches with the world’s longest tongue measuring 3.97 inches.
An important function of the tongue is the gift of speech. Through this, we can freely communicate and express ourselves verbally. The effect is caused by the tongue’s flexible muscles responsible for the different sounds we speak. This enables the tongue to move to different positions, altering the airflow expelled from our lungs causing a variation in pitch. This feat is accomplished so swiftly that the tongue is well able to produce over 90 words a minute!
The tongue enables us to taste things via taste buds. As you consume food, the taste buds relay transmissions through the brain using receptors found on the tongue. These receptors contain nerve endings that chemically react to the type of food you eat, thus, the phenomenon known as ‘taste’. Within a single taste bud lie over 100 specialized taste receptors.
Through this, we experience five different sensations such as bitter, sweet, savory, and salty. Each sensation’s receptors are found on different parts on the tongue’s surface. We all universally taste the same sensations thanks to the work of the tongue.
Our tongue has a specialized method of collecting food particles before our body digests it. This process is known as mastication. As you eat, your tongue produces saliva (secreted from the salivary glands) which combines with the ground up food particles. Once this occurs, the tongue then collects the particles into a batch known as ‘bolus’. It then pushes the bolus down the esophagus and into the stomach for later digestion. Practicing good oral hygiene will help aid swallowing by clearing up left behind food particles which can later develop into other bacteria and bad breath.
Having a piece of food stuck in between your incisors can be a pestering feeling. Our tongue is flexible enough to reach the far crevices and corners of the mouth. We instinctively use our tongues to get rid of obstacles stuck within teeth. Due to the tongue’s soft and bendy nature, it can easily press against teeth getting into those hard to reach areas without experiencing any damage. In the past, before the invention of toothpicks and floss, our ancestors had to rely on more traditional dental hygiene methods, one of which was the use of the tongue to clean and polish teeth.
The tongue is strategically positioned at the entrance to your breathing passage by the throat. Due to this, it directly affects the air coming in and leaving your lungs. When you lower the position of the jaw and relax the tongue muscle, you naturally allow more air to flow through. However, when you’re sleeping, the way your tongue is positioned can affect your breathing patterns and ultimately cause problems like obstructive sleep apnea and even snoring. Usually, overweight people may frequently snore due to the size and mass of the tongue. As we grow, so does our tongue.
At Mountain View Dental, we provide quality dental healthcare services with our team of highly trained professionals and warmly staff. You can schedule an appointment or should you have any inquires, you can call us on our hotline for direct assistance.