What Does the Tongue Do?
Did you know that our tongue is a muscle? When eating, this tiny organ in our mouth helps us in masticating the food into minute parts and swallowing them. The root of the tongue is attached firmly to the floor of our mouth and has a limited range of movement. Our tongue is also responsible for letting us speak, suck, and swallow in coordination.
The tongue has different parts with several functions. For instance, the tip and sides of the tongueare the moveable parts, which can perform complex movements. Then, the back of the tongue is the upper surface where different sensory cells of taste and touch are located.
Facts About Our Tongue
1. Your tongue can determine your health
This may sound weird but it does determine the state of your health. Try sticking out your tongue and notice any warning signs, such as:
- White patches – your tongue has the overgrowth of a normal yeast-like organism in your mouth, which is called Candida Albicans. This is called thrush and is described as white patches or lesions on the back of your tongue and side of your cheeks.
- Black and hairy tongue – it is also caused by an overgrowth of bacteria. Poor oral hygiene is most often the culprit. It may also be caused by diabetes or as an effect of chemotherapy.
- Red tongue – when your tongue has an unusual redness, this may mean that you have a fever or a strep infection. It may also mean that your body lacks vitamins B12, folic acid, or iron. In children, a bright red tongue may mean that they have Kawasaki Disease.
- Bumps in your tongue – when you notice bumps in your tongue, this may be caused by canker sores or herpes.
2. The tongue has a unique print
Like our fingerprints, our tongue also has a unique print that can be a biometric identifier. Unlike fingerprints that can be copied, the imprint in our tongues is protected since it is inside our mouths and is difficult to forge.
3. The tongue is a muscle
The tongue is composed of eight muscles that can be divided into two:
- four intrinsic muscles – these muscles act to change the shape of the tongue and are unattached to the bone and help with speech and swallowing functions. These are the superior longitudinal muscle, inferior longitudinal muscle, vertical muscle, and transverse muscle.
- four extrinsic muscles – these muscles change the position of the tongue and are attached to the bone. These are the genioglossus, hyoglossus, styloglossus, and palatoglossus.
4. Your tongue needs proper daily hygiene
Just like our teeth, the tongue needs proper daily hygiene to avoid the overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. You may use a tongue scraper to remove dirt from it.
5. Taste buds are all over your tongue
We were taught that taste buds are divided into different zones in our tongue. This is not true. We can taste sour, sweet, salty and bitter with our tongue, however, the sides are more sensitive with taste than the middle part and the backside of our tongue is more sensitive to a bitter taste.
If you are looking for an oral health check-up with a local dentist in Ypsilanti, get in touch with us to see how we can help.