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Five things you might not know about your tongue

The tongue plays a key role in our ability to taste, swallow and speak.

If you are committed to maintaining a healthy smile, it’s likely that you take proper care of your teeth and gums every day. Your oral hygiene routine probably includes brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. But are you paying any attention to your tongue? The tongue serves an important function, and helps us to eat, speak and breath with ease. Ideally, you should clean your tongue every time that you brush your teeth — this will help to keep your mouth fresh and healthy in the long-term. Read on to discover some interesting facts about your tongue, and how it helps with day-to-day life…

1. The tongue is a digestive organ

The tongue is, in fact, considered an organ. This is because it aids in a few important processes that are essential to the overall function of the body. The tongue plays a key role in one’s ability to chew, transfer food to the throat, and swallow.

2. The tongue has eight muscles

The tongue is a particularly muscular organ — in fact, it is made up of eight different muscles, some of which are intrinsic, and some of which are extrinsic. The intrinsic muscles are not attached to any bones and help to guide the tip of the tongue. The extrinsic muscles, on the other hand, are attached to the bone. These muscles allow you to change the position of the tongue. When all the muscles work together, the tongue is able to move in all the ways that are necessary for its proper function.

3. The tongue contains thousands of taste buds

The tongue has thousands of tastebuds — every person is different but you could have up to 10 000 taste buds, as well as between 50 and 150 receptor cells. Taste buds have the ability to regenerate and the cells are typically replaced every week or two. When you eat something, digestive enzymes dissolve the food so that they can be identified by your taste buds as five possible flavours — these are sweet, bitter, sour, salty and savoury.

4. The tongue helps with communication

The tongue plays an important role in our ability to communicate because it actually helps us to speak. Every time that you speak, air is pushed out of the lungs, and it moves through the throat and out of the mouth. The vocal cords vibrate to make a sound, while the lips and tongue move to change the airflow in order to form specific words. For this reason, the position and movement of your tongue are extremely important when it comes to creating the sounds that come out of your mouth.

5. The tongue keeps germs at bay

One of the most interesting things about the tongue is that it is able to protect the body from germs. The tongue has a collection of defence cells, which are known as the lingual tonsil. The lingual tonsil is located at the back of the mouth, at the base of the tongue. The cells of the lingual tonsil work together with the palatine tonsils at the back of the throat, and the adenoids on the upper side of the throat, to protect the body from germs that often enter through the mouth.

How can we help?

At Kitchener Street Dental, we love to keep our patients informed when it comes to oral health and hygiene. If you have a question about the condition or function of your smile, we encourage you to come in and see us. Our team is happy to help and will provide you with all the information you need to keep your teeth, gums, tongue and mouth in tip-top condition.

If you would like to come in and see us, book an appointment here or give us a call on 07 4638 5111.

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